Liberal candidate Judy Sgro apologized Wednesday for saying the black community has “more love” for Justin Trudeau because he wore blackface.
In a brief statement, Ms. Sgro, a Toronto-area incumbent, called her remarks to Toronto-based GBKM FM “insensitive.”
“I should have known better, and I apologize,” she said. "The history of blackface is deeply racist and it is nothing other than discriminatory.”
A week into the federal election campaign, Mr. Trudeau admitted to wearing blackface or brownface at least three times from the 1980s to 2001 after Time Magazine published an article featuring him with darkened skin while dressed as Aladdin at a gala hosted by a school where he was a teacher at the time.
Mr. Trudeau since declined to say how many times he has worn blackface or brownface but he has apologized and suggested he didn’t know better.
““I didn’t consider it a racist action at the time but now we know better and this was something that was unacceptable and, yes, racist,” Mr. Trudeau said on Sept. 18.
Ms. Sgro was asked about the controversy in an interview with GBKM FM host Jacqueline Dixon, in a video posted to Facebook on Sept. 28.
A segment from the 32-minute video was posted by journalist Andray Domise on Wednesday and quickly went viral.
“Those in the black community have told me that how much more love they have for the prime minister that he wanted to have a blackface, he took great pride in that,” Ms. Sgro said in response to a question on what she’s heard from the black community about the controversy.
“It’s the media that have blown this into something that it shouldn’t be,” Ms. Sgro added.
The black community, she said, is "very supportive and they’re actually looking for finding more ways that they can show how much they support and love the prime minister.”
Ms. Sgro has represented the Humber River-Black Creek riding since 1999. According to the 2016 census, 74 per cent of the constituents identified as visible minorities.
“All of us were young at one time and all of us sometimes made poor choices and did things that may not be appropriate in today’s world,” Ms. Sgro told the radio host.
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said in Montreal on Wednesday that it was “ludicrous,” “embarrassing" and “shameful” for Ms. Sgro to suggest something that mocks people and makes light of their existence is something they would love.
The comments speak to the fact the Liberals do not understand what people are going through, he added.
“This is another example of that massive disconnect,” Mr. Singh said in an interview.
“It just shows a lack of appreciation for what people are facing in their lives.”
In her Wednesday statement, Ms. Sgro said the Liberal Leader’s blackface incidents “sparked an important conversation” in Canada, saying it needs to be treated “with great seriousness and sensitivity.”
“I will continue to have these important conversations with my constituents,” she said.
Ms. Sgro’s former Liberal caucus colleague, outgoing MP Celina Caesar-Chavannes, dismissed her apology suggesting it was too little too late.
“You did not treat the #blackface issue with seriousness or sensitivity,” she said.
Ms. Caesar-Chavannes, who is not seeking re-election, left the Liberal caucus to sit as an independent in March.
In a segment on a comedy show hosted by Jessi Cruickshank, posted online on Tuesday, Mr. Trudeau was asked by two kids about the fact that he had also painted his hands black when he wore blackface.
In response he said “it was the wrong thing to do.”
“I’m sorry that I hurt you as well. I’m sorry that I hurt kids who get face teasing and discrimination because of the colour of their skin. That’s just not right in this country or anywhere around the world, we all have to work together to make sure that that doesn’t happen,” he said.