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Trudeau says entering politics, father’s death changed perspective on blackface

Click to play video '2019 Federal Election: Trudeau says he’s a ‘different person now’' 2019 Federal Election: Trudeau says he’s a ‘different person now’
WATCH: Trudeau says he’s a ‘different person now’ – Sep 24, 2019

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau said Tuesday that 2001 was the last time he wore brownface or blackface.

Trudeau spoke to Global National’s Dawna Friesen on Tuesday in his first sit-down interview since images emerged of him in brownface and blackface last week.

READ MORE: Conservatives gain 4-point lead as Liberals slip in wake of blackface scandal: Ipsos poll

The Liberal leader told Friesen he’s disappointed in himself, and so is his family — including his mother, Margaret Trudeau, who reminded him to “stay focused.”

“Everyone, a lot of people who know me, were disappointed in me,” he said.

“I hurt people who I care about deeply and who trust me,” Trudeau added, saying that he needs to “do better.”

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WATCH: Trudeau says he’s not running on Stephen Harper’s record

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2019 Federal Election: Trudeau says he’s not running on Stephen Harper’s record – Sep 24, 2019

He added that he learned about the effects of racism in the years after his father’s death, and once he entered politics.

“The years involving my father’s death involved a lot of changes for me,” he said, noting he went back to school and became involved in environmental and youth activism.

“I was learning a lot more about public engagement, a lot more about service. Obviously I’m a very different person today than I was back then.”

Trudeau added that his perspective further changed once he entered his politics and spent time with the “diverse communities” in his Montreal riding.

“That’s why I understand now, which I should have understood then, that it [wearing racist makeup] is always unacceptable,” he said.
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WATCH: Does Trudeau feel like he’s embarrassed Canada over blackface scandal? 

Click to play video 'Federal Election 2019: Does Trudeau feel like he’s embarrassed Canada over blackface scandal?' Federal Election 2019: Does Trudeau feel like he’s embarrassed Canada over blackface scandal?
Federal Election 2019: Does Trudeau feel like he’s embarrassed Canada over blackface scandal? – Sep 24, 2019

While Trudeau publicly apologized for instances in which he wore the racist makeup, Liberals slipped in a poll conducted following the scandal.

The most recent Ipsos poll for Global News found that the Conservative Party has gained a four-point lead over the Liberals in the days since the controversy.

The poll shows that 36 per cent of respondents would vote for the Tories if an election were held the next day and 32 per cent would vote for the Liberals — a loss of three points for the incumbent party.

READ MORE: Racism can become a political flashpoint — advocates say it needs to be a conversation

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The poll surveyed 1,500 Canadians on whether they had seen or heard of the images of Trudeau in blackface and brownface that have prompted him to apologize. Most — 76 per cent — had seen the images. Only 10 per cent said they were unaware of the controversy.

Trudeau dismissed questions over whether he feels like he embarrassed Canada on the world stage in the aftermath of the scandal. He said the attention the brownface controversy has received internationally forces him to do more to “fight discrimination.”

WATCH: Does Trudeau have any other ‘skeletons in the closet?’

Click to play video 'Federal Election 2019: Does Trudeau have any other ‘skeletons in the closet’?' Federal Election 2019: Does Trudeau have any other ‘skeletons in the closet’?
Federal Election 2019: Does Trudeau have any other ‘skeletons in the closet’? – Sep 24, 2019

The Liberal leader refused to directly answer a question on whether he has any other “skeletons in the closet” or past actions that he has disclosed to his staff in light of this latest controversy.

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“We’ve all done things that we’re unhappy with and things that we learned from,” he said. “I’m not different than anybody else.”

Meanwhile on the campaign trail, Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer was in Southern Ontario Tuesday, while the NDP’s Jagmeet Singh was in Winnipeg and Green Party Leader Elizabeth May was in New Brunswick.

— With files from Global News reporter Maryam Shah

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