POLITICS
10/17/2019 12:58 EDT

Justin Trudeau Won’t Say If He Asked Barack Obama To Endorse His Campaign

The former U.S. president "makes up his own mind," the Liberal leader says.

TROIS-RIVIÈRES, Que. — Justin Trudeau isn’t saying whether the Liberal leader’s team asked former U.S. president Barack Obama to endorse his campaign.

On Wednesday, Obama voiced his support for Trudeau on Twitter as the clock ticks down to election day next Monday with the prospect of the Liberals or Conservatives being forced to form a minority government.

Liberals are hoping Obama’s endorsement will convince some progressive voters to cast their ballots for their cause as polls suggest many are leaning toward the NDP and Greens.

Yet the former president’s words have also caused controversy at a time when concerns about foreign interference in democratic elections is top of mind for many governments and voters. 

I was obviously happy to hear his words yesterday, but nobody tells Barack Obama what he should do.Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau

Asked during a campaign event Thursday in the Quebec riding of Trois-Rivieres whether he or his team asked Obama for the endorsement, Trudeau would only say that the former president “makes up his own mind.”

“I was happy to be able to work alongside Barack Obama on important issues around the globe, including, significantly, the fight against climate change, and I’m working really hard to be able to continue that work over the next four years,” Trudeau said.

“I was obviously happy to hear his words yesterday, but nobody tells Barack Obama what he should do.” 

Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press
Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau makes a campaign stop at a family play centre Thursday in Trois-Rivieres, Que.

Trudeau was also asked whether he had apologized to Obama, the first African-American to be elected U.S. president, for having worn brown- and blackface in the past.

Trudeau responded by saying the last time he spoke to Obama was in the spring when the former president, who also previously endorsed Emmanuel Macron’s successful bid for the French presidency, delivered a speech in Ottawa.

Last month, Time magazine published a photo of Trudeau in dark makeup at a 2001 “Arabian Nights” party organized by West Point Grey Academy, the Vancouver private school where he was a teacher. The photo appeared in the school yearbook.

Two more instances of Trudeau wearing blackface quickly emerged after the first photo was released. 

Trudeau has apologized for wearing the makeup, which he says he now believes is racist.

Trudeau was scheduled to campaign Thursday in Quebec, where the Bloc Quebecois’s sudden resurgence is posing a threat to the Liberals’ ability to form another majority government.

While some of the post-election discussion has started to shift toward the scenarios in which either the Liberals or Conservatives would be able to form a minority government, Trudeau refused to weigh in, saying he remained focused on winning a strong Liberal government.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 17, 2019.