09/20/2019 13:57 EDT | Updated 09/21/2019 08:15 EDT

Trudeau, Singh To Have 'Private Conversation' About Liberal Leader’s Controversies

The Liberal leader also provided more context for the blackface video from Global News.

Justin Trudeau says he will apologize directly to NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh for his past racist acts, including appearing in brownface and a turban at a 2001 event in Vancouver.

The Liberal leader confirmed Friday that his campaign director has reached out to his NDP counterpart to arrange the conversation. Singh, the first non-white leader of a federal party in Canada, has been open about discrimination he has faced because of his skin colour and his turban. 

“I will be apologizing to him personally, as a racialized Canadian, as I have been apologizing to Canadians, who have suffered discrimination and intolerance their entire lives in ways that some of us, like me, have never had to experience on a daily basis,” Trudeau told reporters in Toronto.

The Liberal leader said he will continue to fight against racism and intolerance in all its forms, from Islamophobia and anti-Semitism to anti-Black racism.

“And on that I am certainly in deep agreement with Mr. Singh and I look forward to having a good conversation with him.”

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau and NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh are shown in a composite image.

The two leaders were expected to speak by phone Friday, but Singh appears to be publicly setting some ground rules. 

Speaking earlier in Essex, Ont., Singh gave little details about what he might say to Trudeau, but suggested several times the chat should be kept between the leaders.

“I’ve indicated that I’m open to having a private conversation. His office reached out to my office and there will be a private conversation,” Singh said.

The NDP leader later told reporters he did not want the conversation to be used as a tool in Trudeau’s “exoneration.”

“It’s up to Canadians to say whether they are happy with his responses,” he said. “I don’t want to be a part of… somehow helping him or the Liberal party do their PR campaign to remedy this.”

A day earlier, Singh suggested the ball was in Trudeau’s court to arrange a meeting with him.

“I would meet him face to face and tell him what he did was wrong,” the NDP leader said. 

When asked Thursday if he would shake Trudeau’s hand at the upcoming leaders’ debates, Singh said that was a “difficult” thing to think about.

Sean Kilpatrick/CP
Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau speaks during an announcement in Toronto on Sept. 20, 2019.

“How do you respond to somebody, how do you look someone in the eye that’s… mocked the lived reality that I’ve lived, but more importantly that so many Canadians have lived?” he said. 

On Friday, Trudeau unveiled promises to strengthen gun control in Canada by banning all military-style assault rifles and working with provinces and territories to empower cities to ban handguns. He claimed that electing a Conservative government would only mean weaker gun-control measures.

Though he faced some questions from reporters on his proposals, many were still focused on the damaging images that surfaced this week of Trudeau in black and brown makeup. Shortly after Time magazine published the 2001 photo Wednesday, another image of Trudeau in blackface ― from a high school talent show — was published by CTV.

Trudeau also gave more context about a third image, a video from Global News, that showed him covered in makeup that made his skin appear black.

“It was a costume day for river guides… in the whitewater rafting operation that I worked at in the summer, between ’92 and ’94, roughly,” Trudeau said. He later reiterated that he “hadn’t remembered” the incident, and that is why he had not divulged it after the Time story dropped.

‘So, there could be more?’

The Liberal leader was also pressed on a report from La Presse suggesting that more images could soon emerge. On Wednesday, Trudeau told reporters he was “wary of being definitive” about how many times in his life he appeared in racist makeup.

”I have nothing to confirm on that,” he said, when asked if his campaign is expecting more photos to surface.

“So, there could be more?” a reporter asked.

“I have nothing to confirm on that.”

According to the tweets of reporters who are following the Liberal campaign, Trudeau also faced a few jabs about the incidents while campaigning in Toronto ahead of the event.

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