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Politics

Green Party leader speaks out about one of her own candidates wearing blackface in the past

WATCH: Green candidate once wore blackface on comedy show

Green Party Leader Elizabeth May says one of her party candidates running in Newfoundland and Labrador has admitted to her that he once wore blackface decades ago for a comedy skit.

Greg Malone, the candidate in Avalon, N.L., once wore blackface for a skit for CODCO, a show that used to run on CBC back in the 1980s and 1990s, May said on Thursday in an interview with Global News Ottawa Bureau Chief Mercedes Stephenson.

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“He let us know that in one of his skits that was broadcast on CBC several decades ago — I haven’t seen the skit, but there was a skit in which he wore blackface,” May said.

“But it was part of a comedy skit on CODCO and broadcast on the national public broadcaster. But still, you know in retrospect, he wishes he hadn’t done it.”

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In an interview with Global News on Saturday, Malone said he told the Party about the skit in which he wore blackface because he “didn’t want anyone to be surprised.”

“One of the sketches that I did, I played Mahatma Gandhi, who was one of my heroes,” Malone said. “And I was very excited about getting a chance to portray Gandhi, but I didn’t think about the fact that I was wearing makeup and, you know, blackface and stuff.”

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He added that this was the only time he dressed up in this manner and that it was aired on national television.

“I mean, it wasn’t a secret, was it?” Malone said. “It was on national television, it’s in the archives. I mean, I’m not trying to keep it a secret. And it wasn’t secret. I was just alerting (the Greens) to the possibility that someone might say, ‘Hey didn’t Greg Malone play Mahatma Gandhi on TV,’ you know.”

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He said nobody flagged the incident at the time.

“The point is, that was 1990 … and I did it on national television,” he said. “No one at CBC flagged that, no one at Global or CTV or any other network picked up on this.”

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He said people now have a “more sophisticated, nuanced understanding of racism, and in particular, the American history of buffooning Black people in a derogatory fashion at Ku Klux Klan rallies for entertainment.”

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Despite calling the recent revelations of Liberal Party Leader Justin Trudeau’s prior instances of wearing brownface and blackface “deeply troubling and really shameful behaviour,” May said that Malone’s case “falls in a different category.”

She said his skit “wasn’t a hidden video.”

“It was part of a national, very well-loved comedy show, and I haven’t reviewed it but he is very upfront about it and he didn’t hide it,” May said.

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According to his bio on the Green Party website, Malone is best known for CODCO and for his impressions of politicians. He has also written two books. More recently, he has been a motivational speaker on subjects such as AIDS and the environment.

May said she knows Malone “extremely well” and that blackface was something Malone would not do today.

“They’re not multiple incidents, and it wasn’t part of a private life entertainment that he thought was appropriate,” she said. “So given the outrageousness of CODCO in the day, I think it falls in a different category.”

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WATCH: Does ‘blackface’ impact your vote?

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May’s comments come at the end of a week marked by revelations that Trudeau had donned blackface and brownface, including a video that Global News had exclusively obtained showing him in blackface sometime in the 1990s.

Time magazine initially broke the story by publishing a photo from 2001 showing Trudeau in brownface and wearing a turban.

— With files by Mercedes Stephenson

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