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BRIAN JONES: One thousand and one apologetic nights

Justin Trudeau (left), dressed as Aladdin and wearing brownface, embraces an unidentified woman in 2001 during a fundraising event for the Vancouver private school at which he was a teacher. Right, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau holds his wife, Sophie Gregoire Trudeau, during a photo shoot for Vogue. The picture appeared in the magazine’s January 2016 issue. SCREEN GRABS
Justin Trudeau (left), dressed as Aladdin and wearing brownface, embraces an unidentified woman in 2001 during a fundraising event for the Vancouver private school at which he was a teacher. Right, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau holds his wife, Sophie Gregoire Trudeau, during a photo shoot for Vogue. The picture appeared in the magazine’s January 2016 issue. SCREEN GRABS - Contributed

After last week’s revelation of his Academy Award-worthy 2001 performance as Aladdin, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he would call NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh to apologize.

The latest news from Canada’s brownface/blackface beat reporters is that the call hasn’t happened yet, and no date has been set, but … wait, it’s apparently incoming, what lucky timing.

Riiing… Riiing…

Jagmeet Singh: “Hello?”

Justin Trudeau: “Hi Jagmeet, it’s Justin. Do you have a few minutes to talk?”

J.S.: “Of course, Mr. Prime Minister.”

J.T.: “Mr. Prime Minister. I like that. Thanks for your vote of confidence, but Oct. 21 isn’t here yet.”

J.S.: “It’s coming soon enough.”

J.T.: “Don’t I know it. Listen Jagmeet, you probably know why I’m calling. I want to officially apologize to you for that brownface episode that’s been all over the news.”

J.S.: “Why do you want to apologize to me?”

J.T.: “Well, because you’re brown.”

J.S.: “Yes, but you dressed up as Aladdin, a fictional character from an Arabic story. I’m Sikh.”

J.T.: “Oh, yeah, but I figured that since you both wear…”

J.S.: “Turbans. Yes, Justin, but a Sikh turban is different than an Arab turban. And the Punjab is about 3,000 kilometres from Arabia. Sikhs and Arabs have almost nothing in common, except, of course, their brown skin.”

J.T.: “That's why I wanted to call you.”

J.S.: “But the fact that you want to apologize to me shows that you see all brown people as being the same. It’s illogical Justin, and if I may say, it’s a bit racist. You may as well apologize to an Italian guy or an Indigenous guy. You know who else you should apologize to? You should apologize to Canadian women. I have to tell you, I was less appalled by your brownface than I was by your arm around that young woman, with your hand right above her chest. You can’t do that. You can’t do that now, and you couldn’t do that in 2001. You can’t put your hands on women wherever and whenever you want to. Geez, you’re the prime minister. I can’t believe I have to explain this to you.”

J.T.: “Sophie didn’t mind. When we did the photo shoot for Vogue after I was elected, I put my hands on her bum, and everybody loved those pictures.”

J.S.: “Justin, she may be your wife, but it was inappropriate to do that in front of millions of people. To paraphrase you, 'because it's 2019.' Just go Google, ‘When is it appropriate for a man to touch a woman?’”

J.T.: “Maybe I’ll have time after the election.”

J.S.: “Getting back to your brownface episode, Justin, I have to tell you that I’m more disgusted by your hypocrisy. If Andrew Scheer had worn brownface, you and your Liberals would howl for his resignation. But since it’s you, contrition is enough, which it wouldn’t be for Scheer.”

J.T.: “Of course not, because Tories are racists.”

J.S.: “You see, Justin, that’s exactly my point. You can’t label people like that. One act or one opinion or one belief does not define a person. Personally, I don’t think you should resign. But neither would Scheer have to, if it had been him.”

J.T.: “But he’d be racist.”

J.S.: “No Justin. Let me put it another way. Say one of your Liberal MPs had worn brownface. For instance, if Nick Whalen had…”

J.T.: “Nick who?”

J.S.: “Nick Whalen, your candidate in St. John’s East.”

J.T.: “I don’t think I know him.”

J.S.: “Justin, you were recently in St. John’s and were pictured with him in a news photo.”

J.T.: “Was I wearing brownface?”

J.S.: “Look Justin, thanks for the call. I appreciate your effort. I really do. And I apologize in advance if any of my left-wing supporters call you Jolson Trudeau.”

J.T.: “Will they?”

J.S.: “I’ve heard rumours.”

J.T.: “OK Jagmeet, thanks. See you later.”

J.S.: “Bye.”

Brian Jones is a desk editor at The Telegram. He can be reached at brian.jones@thetelegram.com.


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