Nova Scotian politicians react to Trudeau blackface scandal

A Nova Scotia senator says photos of Justin Trudeau in blackface left her feeling surprised, disappointed, angry and annoyed.

But Wanda Thomas Bernard said she wants to shift the narrative. She said the incident should be put into a broader context.

"Let's deflate the political football for a moment," said Thomas Bernard.

"It's not just about where Justin Trudeau goes from here, but where do we as a nation go from here?"

The first image appeared in Time Magazine Wednesday night. Since then, another picture and a video of Trudeau in brownface or blackface have surfaced.

Thomas Bernard was appointed to the Senate by Trudeau, but sits as an independent.


She believes the country should use this incident as an opportunity to open up serious conversations about racism and privilege.

"Let's break the silence about racism," she said. "And about how privilege allows incidents like this to happen."

In a news conference on Thursday in Manitoba, Trudeau apologized again and acknowledged that it was his "position of privilege" that allowed the incidents to happen,

Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil was questioned by reporters about the photos at a celebration of African Nova Scotian culture in downtown Halifax Thursday afternoon.

"I think the Prime Minister acknowledged that it was a mistake on his part and that he regretted deeply," said McNeil.

"He asked for forgiveness and Canadians will decide."

Craig Paisley/CBC

The province's minister for African Nova Scotian Affairs, Tony Ince, said he was surprised and disappointed after seeing the pictures.

"It was a real mistake in judgment," said Ince. "We have a lot of work to do and those types of incidents don't help, but they give us an opportunity to have that uncomfortable conversation."

Nova Scotia Progressive Conservative Party Leader Tim Houston said he hopes the Liberals hold the Prime Minister to the same standard they apply to the candidates in other parties.

"We have politicians that have set the bar very high and are very quick to break down another person's character," said Houston.

"They need to be careful and look in the mirror themselves."