Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Saturday September 21, 2019
In Quebec, Trudeau’s opponents and supporters shrug off blackface controversy
Quebec had been the epicentre of debates about identity politics so far in the federal election campaign, with party leaders forced to confront to the popularity of a new law on religious symbols.
But the campaign shifted focus abruptly on Thursday, after photos and video emerged of Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau wearing racist makeup. The desire to talk identity politics in the province evaporated just as quickly.
Even though Trudeau’s criticism of Quebec’s secularism law has been controversial in the province, none of his usual opponents on the issue were itching to rake him over the coals.
“I can understand that some people were hurt by these pictures. But Mr. Trudeau said that he was sorry. I think we have to talk about something else,” said Premier François Legault, who has clashed with Trudeau over the law, also known as Bill 21.
The leader of the sovereignist Parti Québécois, Pascal Bérubé, went so far as to play down the condemnations issued by Trudeau’s federal rivals.
“It’s a political campaign. They want to make sure that Mr. Trudeau pays for that,” Bérubé told reporters in Quebec City. “You can disagree with him on many issues, that’s my case, but he’s not a racist.”
The French media in Quebec also shrugged off Wednesday night’s revelations that Trudeau had dressed in blackface once in high school and again in 2001 while a teacher at a private school in British Columbia. A third image of him in blackface surfaced in video form Thursday.
Unlike in English Canada, few French newspapers gave prominent coverage to the images.
In Quebec City, Wednesday’s Céline Dion concert was featured more prominently on the Thursday front pages of the local papers.
The main political story on the front page of Montreal’s Le Devoir was about Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer’s proposal to build an oil pipeline through the province, and the possibility he could ignore Quebec’s objections to such a project.
One Journal de Montreal columnist, Richard Martineau, did put the screws to Trudeau. But Martineau, who is often critical of multiculturalism and dismissive of minority groups, seemed mainly interested in accusing Trudeau of hypocrisy, not racism. (CBC) https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/quebec-reaction-trudeau-brownface-1.5289508
Quebec, Canada, #elxn2019, blackface, Justin Trudeau, minorities, religious rights, Bill 21, secularism