New photo of Justin Trudeau in blackface emerges as Canadians head to the polls

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A new colour image of Justin Trudeau wearing blackface - @WeAreCanProud /Twitter
A new colour image of Justin Trudeau wearing blackface - @WeAreCanProud /Twitter

A new image of Justin Trudeau in blackface emerged as voters headed to the polls in a closely fought general election that threatened the Canadian prime minister's grip on power.

The unverified photograph shows a younger Mr Trudeau wearing a white turban and robe with his face, neck and hands coated in dark brown or black makeup.

It was released on Twitter by Canada Proud, an anti-Trudeau campaign group, as Canadians cast their votes in an election that has proved an uphill battle for the 49-year-old prime minister.

The jarring image has revived the scandal that engulfed the Liberal leader ahead of the 2019 election, when similar photographs emerged and damaged his reputation as the country's liberal poster boy.

Mr Trudeau has previously said he deeply regrets his decision to wear blackface as a younger man and that his white "privilege" blinded him to its racist implications.

The pictures were from a 2001 Arabian Nights gala at West Point Grey Academy in Vancouver, where Mr Trudeau was teaching at the time.

Unlike the images released in 2019, the photograph released on Sunday night is in colour.

Brian Lilley, a columnist for the Toronto Sun, tweeted: "Looks even worse in colour. Will photos like this make Liberals reconsider their vote?"

The new image comes as the 49-year-old Mr Trudeau's political future hangs in the balance, with most polls before voting began showing his Liberal Party locked in a tight race with the main opposition Conservative Party.

Mr Trudeau has long been regarded as a leading proponent of multiculturalism and diversity, proudly declaring himself a feminist and adopting local customs on his foreign trips.

But he lost his majority in 2019 following a string of political scandals which hurt his brand and led opponents to deride his actions as virtue signalling. Since then he has relied on the cooperation of other parties, in particular the left-wing New Democratic Party (NDP) to pass his agenda.

In addition to the blackface pictures, Mr Trudeau's decision to don Indian attire during a 2018 trip to the Subcontinent was mocked by the country's press as well as Canadians back home.

He has also faced accusations that he forced "strong women" out of his party after three female MPs quit or were removed from the Liberal Party after coming into conflict with him.

The final polls ahead of Monday's election suggest that Mr Trudeau's Liberal Party could win the most seats in the 338-seat House of Commons to lead another minority government.

But anything short of the 170 seats needed for a majority will be a politically costly embarrassment for Mr Trudeau, who called the snap election two years early to strengthen his mandate.

Justin Trudeau poses with others at an "Arabian Nights" party when he was a 29-year-old teacher at the West Point Grey Academy in Vancouver - Reuters
Justin Trudeau poses with others at an "Arabian Nights" party when he was a 29-year-old teacher at the West Point Grey Academy in Vancouver - Reuters

With polls showing the majority of the public approved of his handling in the election, Mr Trudeau gambled that an early election would increase his 155 seat count.

But his gamble backfired when Conservative leader Erin O'Toole, proved himself to be an adept campaigner and successfully framed the election as a selfish power grab by the ruling Liberals.

Mr Trudeau has regained a slight lead in the final stretch of the 36-day campaign by contrasting his willingness to introduce Covid-19 vaccine mandates against Conservative opposition.

Mr O'Toole, 48, has also been hurt by his early praise for Alberta's management of the pandemic with the Conservative-run province now crippled by a fourth Covid-19 wave.

A senior Liberal strategist privately admitted Mr Trudeau, who has been in power for six years, is bracing for a close race.

"There's no world in which this is not tight," the strategist said. "Is a majority possible? Yes. Is it the likeliest scenario? No."

Mr Trudeau was due to spend election night at the Farimont Hotel in downtown Montreal to watch the results come in, knowing his decision to call a vote may have cost him his premiership.

He smiled to the cameras as he arrived hand in hand with his children at a polling station in his riding of Papineau, Quebec, to cast his ballot.

He sounded hoarse as he told supporters “there’s a new day dawning in this country” as he capped off a frantic final day on Sunday, beginning in Montreal and ending more than 2,800 miles away in Burnaby, British Columbia close to midnight.

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