The candidates running for the two leading federal parties in the NWT are not commenting on a Wednesday night bombshell showing Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in brown face at an Arabian-themed party in 2001.

NNSL Media sent a series of questions to NWT MP incumbent Michael McLeod. regarding Prime Minister Justin Trudeaus brownface controversy. His office directed all media requests on the matter to Liberal headquarters. A response was not received as of Tuesday night. NNSL file photo

NNSL Media reached out to NWT MP Michael McLeod on Wednesday evening but was directed to the Liberal Party headquarters’ email address.

During past Liberal government controversies, such as when former Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould revealed to the nation that the prime minister pressured her during an SNC Lavalin fraud and bribery case, McLeod answered questions but not this time.

Yanik D’Aigle, the NWT’s Conservative candidate called a “total lack of judgement.

“Like all Canadians I was extremely shocked and disappointed when I learned of Justin Trudeau’s actions,” he said.

“Wearing brownface is an act of open mockery and racism. It was just as racist in 2001 as it is in 2019.”
He added that as far as the NWT campaign, it will be up to voters to self-reflect and decide how important the issue is to them.

Paul Falvo, Green Party candidate, called the incident “a tremendous error of judgment” that “shows a troubling attitude.

Yanik DAigle, Conservative candidate for NWT MP, declined comment when NNSL Media reached out to him on Tuesday night.
NNSL file photo
“We should expect more from a man who himself was the son of a prime minister, who grew up on 24 Sussex Drive and surely was exposed to different cultures and was handed every opportunity,” Falvo stated in a Facebook conversation. “That said, every one of us has made errors and done things we regret.”
Falvo stated he was disappointed by the tone of the apology and said his teenage daughter thought he “sounds like boys in middle school when they get caught doing something bad.
“What disappoints me further is his disingenuous apology,” stated Falvo. “He is sorry he got caught. He obviously knew about this and had years of opportunity to confront it. He chose to ignore it hoping he wouldn’t be found out.”
Asked if a photograph from 2001 at an Arabian-themed party should be something which one should judge an elected official, Falvo stated Trudeau should have known better.

“He was 29 years old. He was an adult – a privileged adult,” Falvo stated. “It’s fair game to look at his behaviour. People make mistakes and learn. We must also consider how they respond to their mistakes.

“I want to hear from Northerners how they feel about it.
Mary Beckett, NDP candidate stated to NNSL media that she saw the news reports about the three incidents involving Trudeau in brownface. She said she agrees with NDP leader Jagmeet Singh and the need to keep victims of racism in mind.
Mary Beckett, NDP candidate for the Northwest Territories, said she supports her party leader’s response and that the photos can be used to judge how the federal government has responded to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and Missing and Murdered reports.
NNSL file photo
“I think Jagmeet’s response is valid – we need to think about people who have experienced the pain of racism,” Beckett stated in an email.
“I believe in standing up for inclusion and diversity. The photos may be from past events, but I think we can use them as a part of the picture in judging the actions of the present government with regard to how well they have responded to calls for action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission or from the Murdered & Missing Indigenous Women and Girls inquiry or in the handling of any number of other issues affecting Indigenous people and Northerners over the past four years.”
Luke Quinlan, candidate for the Peoples Party of Canada, stated over Facebook that the incident makes the prime minister look hypocritical.
Luke Quinlan, the MP candidate for the People’s Party of Canada in the NWT said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau comes across as a hypocrite and that he should be held to his own standards.
NNSL photo
“While I acknowledge all of us make mistakes; may say or do something that is offensive, unintended, insensitive or inappropriate, when we look at the context over the last four years and his lecturing on feminism and inclusivity and tolerance, this display of more than one instance of him acting this way is a little too much,” stated Quinlan.
“When the Prime Minister of Canada accuses others of intolerance or worse when political opponents criticize his policies – this is wildly hypocritical of Justin Trudeau.”
Quinlan added that Trudeau should he held to his own standards.
“Given the assumed monopoly on morality of Justin Trudeau and the Liberal party, specifically his moral grandstanding, his virtue signalling, identity politics and meaningless platitudes – the Prime Minister is a hypocrite and should be held to his own standard.
“Would he be so understanding if this was one of his opponents? While this is embarrassing for Canada and damaging for the Liberal brand, what is more repugnant is the disastrous policies and his quickness to condescend to other Canadians who disagree with him on the issues.”

Simon Whitehouse

Simon Whitehouse came to Yellowknife to work with Northern News Services in 2011. Simon obtained his journalism education at Algonquin College and the University of Ottawa. Simon can be reached at...

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