"I was disappointed" Leeds-Grenville Lib Candidate addresses brownface, blackface controversy

Josh Bennett for Leeds Grenville Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes Election Oct 2019

The Liberal Candidate for Leeds—Grenville—Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes says he's forgiven Justin Trudeau.

This comes after three incidents of brownface and blackface in the Liberal leaders past have come to light over the past two days.

"I was disappointed," says Josh Bennett. "I joined the Liberal Party in part because I resonated with the party's embrace of diversity and our record of the party's steps to combat systemic racism."

The liberal leader vying for a second term as prime mister said in a press conference “layers of privilege” prevented him from seeing that wearing brownface and blackface on three separate occasions and was not right.

Bennett says he had a chance to speak with Trudeau directly and believes him when he says he's sorry and embarrassed. But Bennett admits that it's not up to him to accept his apology.

"That's up to communities impacted by systemic racism, they're the ones who are going to have to forgive him." 

He says he now wants to focus on the Liberal platform.

"It takes us away from the important issues that we need to be discussing right now," says Bennett. "Not that we shouldn't be talking about this, we need to deal with this. It happened. It came out. It was wrong. But at the same time I want to get back to talking about climate change, talking about increasing the middle class, increasing the economy, especially right here in Leeds-Grenville-Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes."

Meanwhile, NDP Candidate Michelle Taylor, says in a statement to JRFM, she stands in solidarity with her party's Leader Jagmeet Singh.

"I share NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh's disappointment in the content of PM Trudeau's recently-surfaced pictures and videos. As well, I stand in solidarity with those who have been hurt by these images. Ultimately, it will be up to Canadians to decide on their assessment of Mr. Trudeau's character. His last four years speak for themselves with his party's track record of economic racism and broken promises of Indigenous reconciliation. I share Jagmeet's priority in keeping the focus on those who continue to suffer from the apathy shown by our current Liberal government, particularly the First Nations of this land. 

To those from certain parties who want to take this occasion to climb up on their high horse of morality, I'd recommend being very careful. Nothing that surfaces about any opposing party washes away your own hate and intolerance. If your focus in a situation like this is to grasp at political points for yourself, you've done a great job of exposing your character for all to see.

Let us all move forward in solidarity towards a society where nobody is made to feel like they are less for who they are. We know better and must focus on showing those around us they are valued every day, in word and deed."

We've reached out to Michael Barrett, the Conservative candidate in our riding, on whether he has a statement on the issue. At press time he has not gotten back, we will update when and if he does.