(Bloomberg) -- Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau wore “brownface” makeup at an “Arabian Nights” theme party in 2001 for the private school where he taught at the time, according to a photo published by Time Magazine and confirmed by his Liberal Party.
The photograph, which Time says was taken from a school yearbook, shows Trudeau wearing a white turban, with his face and hands darkened. Trudeau, then 29, poses with four women in the photo. The prime minister plans to address reporters later Wednesday, according to a party spokeswoman, who confirmed it is Trudeau in the photo.
The release of the picture is potentially a devastating development for Trudeau, coming only weeks before an Oct. 21 federal election. The Canadian leader, who has already seen his support wane over the past year amid an ethics scandal involving SNC-Lavalin Group Inc., has made diversity a central tenet of his governing principles.
Trudeau has been a champion of women and minority rights since he was first elected in 2015. He was the first Canadian prime minister to appoint a gender balanced Cabinet, and has boosted immigration levels to the highest since the First World War.
“He has to answer to that,” said New Democratic Party Leader Jagmeet Singh, speaking to reporters in Toronto. “That’s really insulting” and makes a mockery of people and where they come from.
Aggregate opinion polling data compiled by the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. show Trudeau’s Liberals and the main opposition Conservatives in a dead heat for the election.
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