Canada's PM Justin Trudeau apologises for brownface photo

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Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau donned brownface make-up for a 2001 party at a private school in Vancouver, British Columbia, where he was teaching at the time.

It's not a photo from a childhood Halloween party, it's from when he was a 29 year-old teacher at Vancouver's West Point Grey Academy.

Trudeau noted another time he wore blackface, saying: "When I was in high school I dressed up at a talent show and sang "Day O" with makeup on".

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau arrives before making a statement in regards to photo coming to light of himself from 2001 wearing brownface during a scrum on his campaign plane in Halifax on September 18, 2019.

Trudeau, who has been in power since 2015, is facing a tough re-election battle against the main opposition Conservatives led by Andrew Scheer.

He added: "He's got to answer the question why he did that and what does that say about what he thinks about people who, because of who they are, because of the colour of their skin, face challenges and barriers and obstacles in their life".

"I told him to be upfront and to own the mistake", said Alghabra, who admitted to being upset and concerned by the photo, but also ready to forgive.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, left, attends the annual pride parade with NDP leader Jagmeet Singh and Green Party leader Elizabeth May in Montreal, Sunday, August 18, 2019.

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Liberal Party spokesperson Zita Astravas confirmed to Time that the photo is authentic.

Time Magazine on Wednesday published the photograph, just one week into an election campaign scheduled for October 21, where Justin is seeking his second term, reported Al Jazeera.

"Obviously I regret that I did it", he said.

Trudeau has made diversity a central theme of his time as prime minister, boosting immigration, condemning Islamophobia, and welcoming refugees.

"Yes it was", he said, in response to reporters asking if he thought the photo was racist.

As of the September 17 update, the CBC's Canada Poll Tracker gives the Conservatives the slimmest of leads in the national polling average, with 34.4 per cent support to 34.1 per cent for the Liberals. "What Canadians saw this evening is someone with a complete lack of judgment and integrity and someone who's not fit to govern this country". It seems likely to make the Liberals think twice about continuing with their tactic of exposing evidence of past intolerance or insensitivity from Conservative candidates.

The news immediately injected new uncertainty into the political career of Mr Trudeau, the Liberal Party leader who began his reelection campaign a week ago.