Natural Resources Minister Amarjeet Sohi said Thursday he was “very disheartened and disappointed” to see the images of Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau in brownface and blackface.
Sohi said he “felt pain” when he saw the images but that they don’t reflect the Trudeau he’s known for the last four years.
He is currently running to be re-elected as MP in Edmonton Mill Woods.
“These indefensible images bring back many painful memories of racism that I and other racialized Canadians have experienced throughout our lives,” said Sohi, who was born in the Indian state of Punjab and emigrated to Edmonton in 1981.
“From defending the rights of the LGBTQ community, to speaking up against Islamophobia, to increasing funding for anti-racism work, he has demonstrated this through his actions.
“I have spent my life fighting racism — in my city and my country — and I will continue to do so because there is more work left to do.”
Sohi said he spoke with Trudeau on Thursday morning and the Liberal leader expressed his regret.
Watch below: Images of Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau in blackface and brownface have sent shockwaves through local campaigns, including in Edmonton. Tom Vernon sat down with Amarjeet Sohi for his take on the scandal.
Before being elected Member of Parliament for Edmonton Mill Woods, Sohi served as an Edmonton city councillor.
Watch below (Sept. 19): Three instances of Liberal leader Justin Trudeau wearing racist makeup have come to light. Irfan Chaudhry, director of the Office of Human Rights, Diversity and Equity at MacEwan University, helps unpack the issues stemming from the controversy.
A 2001 photo of Trudeau in brownface was released Wednesday, as his campaign for re-election entered its second week.
The black-and-white photo, which was featured in a yearbook for West Point Grey Academy, the school Trudeau taught at, was published by Time magazine. Shortly after Time magazine released the image, Trudeau issued a public apology while aboard his campaign plane.
“I attended an end-of-year gala and the theme was Arabian Nights. I dressed up in an Aladdin costume and put makeup on. I shouldn’t have done that. I should have known better. But I didn’t. And I’m really sorry,” he said.
“I deeply regret that we — that I did that,” Trudeau added. “I should have known better. But I didn’t.”
Watch below (Sept. 18): Justin Trudeau apologizes after a 2001 photo of him in brownface is released
A second instance, which the Liberal leader admitted to while apologizing for the first, is a photo of him at a high school talent show, “with makeup on,” performing the song Day-O.
In the third instance of racist makeup, Trudeau is seen in blackface in a video from the early 1990s obtained by Global News. It’s not clear where it takes place.
The video, obtained exclusively by Global News, shows Trudeau covered in what appears to be dark makeup and raising his hands in the air while laughing, sticking his tongue out and making faces. He’s wearing a white T-shirt and his jeans are ripped at the knees. It appears as though his arms and legs are covered in makeup as well.
It does not appear the video was shot at the same time and place as the other photos of Trudeau in racist makeup.
When asked Wednesday night if he had made any calls to colleagues who might be offended by the images, Trudeau replied that he had “made a number of calls to friends and colleagues… and I will have many more colleagues, many more calls to make.”
— With files from Global’s Mercedes Stephenson and James Armstrong