Saskatoon Liberals cheer Trudeau one day after blackface scandal breaks

Liam Richards / Saskatoon StarPhoenix Justin Trudeau faced just one question about the blackface scandal engulfing his re-election campaign during a hastily-arranged town hall meeting in Saskatoon, the day after it emerged that he has worn skin-darkening makeup on at least three occasions.Challenged to round the number of times he has worn blackface “to the nearest five,” Trudeau again declined to provide a specific figure and instead said he did not want to make light of the situation as far too many people face discrimination every day.“What I did was inexcusable and wrong,” the Liberal leader told the friendly crowd at the Delta Bessborough event, which was originally planned as a campaign rally with local candidates before the format was changed late Thursday afternoon.“And it hurt a lot of people who consider me an ally and that is wrong — I am deeply, deeply sorry,” Trudeau added, echoing the apologies he gave to reporters in Halifax on Wednesday and in Winnipeg earlier in the day. Liam Richards / Saskatoon StarPhoenix Seemingly dissatisfied, the young man who asked the question again challenged the Liberal leader to provide a figure — which he refused to do in Winnipeg. It was the one moment of tension in an otherwise upbeat event amid a major scandal.It was not clear until Thursday morning that Trudeau would even speak at the Saskatoon event, scheduled one day after Time magazine first reported that he donned brownface makeup as part of an Aladdin costume at an Arabian Nights-themed dinner in 2001.That disclosure, which tarnished his reputation as a champion of diversity and inclusion, was followed by Trudeau’s admission that he wore blackface in high school and Global News reported on a video of him wearing blackface in the early 1990s.The scandal did not appear to have shaken many of the roughly 500 people who showed up to hear Trudeau speak, one of whom told the crowd there was no need for Trudeau to apologize for the incidents, the most recent of which happened when he was 29.“Please, when we have this debate, let’s not go back digging up bones. (It’s about) what we do now in the present,” the man said before Trudeau thanked him for the sentiment but said political leaders should not hurt anyone and the apology was necessary.Others seemed to agree, and showed it by cheering Trudeau. Donovan Horvey described himself as a Liberal supporter whose voting decision is made. He said the painted skin controversy won’t change it.“I really personally don’t look that down upon it,” Horvey said. Trudeau was flanked at the event by multiple Saskatchewan Liberal candidates, many of whom face uphill electoral battles in a province that pollsters suggest will overwhelmingly go Conservative when Canadians vote on Oct. 21.Many of those candidates expressed support for Trudeau earlier in the day, after he delivered what one called a “very extensive apology” during a conference call Thursday morning. Others, like Cook-Searson, referred comment back to the party.Speaking to reporters in Regina, Regina–Wascana MP Ralph Goodale said while those who saw the photographs would not feel “anything but sadness and regret,” he nevertheless expects “very broad and very deep” support for the party leader.“He’s been very clear. There’s no obfuscation or no excuse — (he) totally assumed the responsibility that is necessary. And now dealing with repairing,” Goodale said.— With files from Arthur White-Crummey and the National [email protected]/macphersonaRelated Liberal leader Justin Trudeau speaks at a town hall in in Saskatoon, SK on Thursday, September 19, 2019. Liberal leader Justin Trudeau prior to speaking at a town hall in in Saskatoon, SK on Thursday, September 19, 2019. Jurell Parris, who was waiting in line for the event behind Horvey, said as a black man he found Trudeau’s actions offensive and disappointing, but noted that he will cast his ballot — which is still undecided — for a party with policies rather than a person.David Snider was among a small group of protesters outside the downtown hotel displaying an “I Love Canadian Oil and Gas” banner. Asked why he came to protest Trudeau, Snider said Western Canada’s oil and gas sector is “losing jobs.” Liam Richards / Saskatoon StarPhoenix Liberal leader Justin Trudeau takes selfies with people following a town hall in in Saskatoon, SK on Thursday, September 19, 2019. Inside the town hall, which required registration from people interested in the campaign rally it was scheduled to be, Trudeau fielded mostly softball questions, including one that included his campaign slogan “choose forward.”The Liberal leader was also queried on Indigenous issues by Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations Vice Chief David Pratt and Saskatoon Tribal Council Chief Mark Arcand. Pratt said he accepted Trudeau’s apology for the blackface incidents.Trudeau was introduced at the town hall by Tammy Cook-Searson, the Liberal candidate for Desnethé–Missinippi–Churchill River, who touted Trudeau’s record on Indigenous issues including lifting numerous drinking water advisories and building homes on reserves.Asked about the environment and climate change, Trudeau took a shot at Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe for spending taxpayers’ money to fight the carbon tax — one of several moments throughout the night that received big cheers from the crowd. Liam Richards / Saskatoon StarPhoenix Liberal leader Justin Trudeau speaks at a town hall in in Saskatoon, SK on Thursday, September 19, 2019. Liberals still lack a candidate in Saskatoon West Abandoned mine cleanup federal, provincial responsibility: Cook-Searson Few fireworks at campaign kickoff debate

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