OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Wednesday delivered an apology for an incident in 2001 where he dressed up in brown face. He then took questions from reporters.
Here is a copy of his opening statement and then a partial transcript of the exchange with media.
“In 2001, I was teaching in Vancouver and attended an end of year gala where the theme was Arabian Nights. I dressed up in an Aladdin costume and put make-up on. I shouldn’t have done that. I should have known better but I didn’t and I’m deeply sorry.”
Q: You were 29-years-old at the time. How can you explain what you did?
A: “It was a mistake. I should not have done it. I should have known not to do it and I deeply regret it. Yes, I apologise. I am disappointed.”
Q: Had one of your Liberal candidates in this election race done this, would you have asked them to step down?
A: “There are people who have made mistakes in this life and you make decisions on what they actually do and did and on a case-by-case basis.”
Q: Is this the only time in your life that you have ever done something like this?
A: “When I was in high school I dressed up at a talent show and sang “Day O” (a traditional Jamaican song about people loading bananas onto boats) with make-up on.”
Q: If someone else had done this, would you have asked them to retract the remarks?
A: “I always fought all my life against discrimination and intolerance. I should have known at that age not to do this.”
Q: When people in the United States do these sorts of things, they are asked to resign. Have you given any thought to resigning?
A: “I take responsibility for my decision to do that... it was something that I didn’t think was racist at the time but now I recognise it was something racist to do. And I am deeply sorry ... I have made a number of calls to friends and colleagues tonight and I will have many more calls to make.”
Q: Why should you be allowed to stay on as a candidate?
A: “I am going to be asking Canadians to forgive me for what I did ... it was a dumb thing to do. I’m disappointed in myself. I’m pissed off with myself for having done it.”
Reporting by David Ljunggren. Editing by Lincoln Feast.