The Cleansing Power of Daylight


Convivium, 20 September 2019

With the "blackface" make-up photo of Justin Trudeau comes the hope for an end to the mud-slinging politics that have covered the election campaign to date, writes Fr. Raymond. 

As political catastrophes go, the blackface scandal is, as the expression goes, a massive banana peel.

Now the Tally Man has arrived to make an accounting. Daylight come, as the prime minister once blackened his face to sing. Perhaps he still does – sing the song, I mean, not the blackface. But then he “is wary about being definitive” about how often he put on the “make-up” so maybe he has got out the burnt cork more recently too, perhaps on one of those Caribbean vacations where the spirit of Harry Belafonte beckons.

Is our prime minister a racist? He says now that he did racist things once upon a time. Herewith the considered position of Her Majesty’s first minister for Canada: Racists do racist things, but not all racist things are done by racists. Some people might do racist things out of ignorance or immaturity, as the prime minister now explains. It’s plausible. Many people, even in the Liberal Party, would be open to Justin Trudeau convincing them that he was ignorant and immature well into adulthood.

Racist? Perhaps not. There are some political accusations that the prime minister is a hypocrite and dissembler, as seemingly supported in the SNC-Lavalin case. The ethics commissioner said as much, having issued a report to that effect. 

So has our political moment changed now that we have seen the photo of Justin Trudeau in Aladdin get-up, blackened hand planted on the young woman in front of him? Blackface and creepy is a rare combination, exclusively available to those parents who drop 20K for an exclusive education at West Point Grey in Vancouver.

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