Justin Trudeau admits to wearing blackface after three instances emerge, won't rule out more

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau admitted Thursday to wearing darkened makeup and said,"This is something I deeply, deeply regret.

Breaking News Emails

Get breaking news alerts and special reports. The news and stories that matter, delivered weekday mornings.
SUBSCRIBE
By Elisha Fieldstadt and Caroline Radnofsky

A third instance of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau dressed in a costume and covered in blackface surfaced Thursday, hours after he admitted to two previous instances where he dramatically darkened his face.

“It was blackface,” Trudeau said definitively to reporters on Thursday.

When pressed on if there were more instances of him in blackface, he said he was not sure if other photos or videos might surface. "I am wary of being definitive about this because the recent pictures that came out, I had not remembered," he said.

"The fact is, I didn’t understand how hurtful this is to people who live with discrimination every day," Trudeau continued.

"This is something I deeply, deeply regret. Darkening your face, regardless of the context or the circumstances, is always unacceptable because of the racist history of blackface," Trudeau continued. "And I didn’t see that from the layers of privilege that I have, and for that I am deeply sorry and I apologize."

The video, showing Trudeau gesturing and sticking his tongue out while wearing dark makeup on his face, arms and legs was exposed by the Canadian network Global News, which reported they obtained the clip earlier this week. Trudeau can be seen wearing a black wig, along with ripped pants.

A spokesperson for Trudeau's party, the Liberal Party of Canada, confirmed to NBC News that the person in the video, which was taken in the 1990s, is the prime minister.

A photo of a separate incident, published by the Canadian newspaper The Globe and Mail, also shows Trudeau in a dark makeup and a wig. He is wearing a blazer and white pants.

The spokesperson for the Liberal Party of Canada said that Trudeau was the person in the photo, which was taken during a high school talent show at Collège Jean-de-Brébeuf in the late 1980s. The spokesperson added that the photo is the one Trudeau was referring to when he said Wednesday night that, while in high school, he had "dressed up at a talent show and sang 'Day-o' — in makeup."

The admission came after Time magazine published another photo from a 2000-2001 West Point Grey Academy yearbook, where Trudeau once taught, that showed him with darkened skin while dressed as a character from Aladdin for an "Arabian Nights"-themed gala. The prime minister would have been 29 at the time that photo was taken.

Trudeau had also apologized Wednesday saying: "I should have known better, but I didn’t and I’m really sorry."

When pressed by a reporter if it was the only time he's ever darkened his skin, Trudeau talked about dressing up to "Banana Boat Song (Day-o)," which was popularized by Harry Belafonte.

When asked on Thursday if he had been forthcoming about the photos during political campaign vetting processes, he said he had not.

"I never talked about this," Trudeau said. "I was embarrassed. It was not something that represents the person I’ve become, the leader I try to be."

Trudeau, who is up for re-election in October, is already facing a tough campaign as a corruption scandal swirls around his administration.

Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner Mario Dion said Trudeau and his team attempted last year to "circumvent, undermine and ultimately attempt to discredit" a decision by federal prosecutors that construction company SNC-Lavalin Group Inc should face a corruption trial.

The prime minister admitted that he breached ethics rules by trying to influence a corporate legal case and said he accepted the 63-page report from Dion's office, but he did not apologize.