Top News

Liberal candidate Greg Fergus responds to Trudeau photos: 'This is something that happened 20 years ago'

Liberal candidates Greg Fergus, Catherine McKenna and Will Amos answer questions on Thursday.
Liberal candidates Greg Fergus, Catherine McKenna and Will Amos answer questions on Thursday.
OTTAWA, Ont. —

Liberal incumbent in Hull-Aylmer Greg Fergus says he accepts the apology of Liberal leader Justin Trudeau after evidence emerged that the Liberal leader wore blackface at a Aladdin-themed end-of-year school dinner in 2001.

“If this were something that happened last week, it would be a completely different story,” Fergus, who is black, said Thursday. “This is something that happened 20 years ago. Over 20 years ago. I think we have to ask ourselves ‘When did this happen? Is this a reflection of this person’s views?’ ” Fergus told reporters.

Trudeau has apologized and also admitted to a photo of him at a high school talent show performing the song “with makeup on.” A third instance, a video showing Trudeau in dark makeup in the early 1990s, has also surfaced.

“Who among us has not done something we regret?” Fergus asked reporters at a morning  press conference with Ottawa Centre Liberal candidate Catherine McKenna about McKenna’s proposal to improve the Prince Of Wales Bridge for cyclist and pedestrian use. Fergus, who was elected to represent Hull—Aylmer in 2015 and is running again, was added to the press conference in a media release sent out Wednesday evening.

But reporters asked few questions about the bridge proposal. Fergus spoke first in response to questions about Trudeau’s past, outlining the Liberal party’s efforts to improve diversity and acknowledge the contributions of black Canadians such as Viola Desmond, the civil rights activist featured on the $10 bill. In 2018, Trudeau announced the government of Canada would officially recognize the International Decade for People of African Descent to highlight and celebrate the contributions people of African descent have made to Canadian society.

“You have to look at it on a case-by-case basis,” said Fergus, who added that he would like to use the incident as “an opportunity” to continue the discussion on racial and systemic discrimination.

“It think it is a great opportunity for us and for the prime minister to continue his good work … I would want to look at what the person has done in their life. … When they had an opportunity to act, did they?”

Fergus, who grew up in the Montreal suburb of Dollard-des-Ormeaux, worked as a parliamentary page as a university student, and later as a staffer for cabinet ministers. He has a degree in international relations, and a long-time connection with the Liberal party, where he was president of the Young Liberals of Canada and national director of the Liberal party.

He said he spoke to Trudeau Wednesday night and has had a number of conversations with members of the black community — and would be having more.

“I think the community, by and large, they were hurt, but they have also forgiven.”

Speaking after Fergus, a visibly shaken McKenna said she was “incredibly proud” to be on Fergus’s team. There is still a lot of work to be done to foster diversity, she added.

“I’m really proud to be part of a team as diverse as our team,” she said. “We have taken action and there’s more work to do. …. What were are doing is incredibly important. And I believe in what we are doing.”

Asked after the press conference about the apparent repeat nature of Trudeau’s appearances in blackface, Fergus responded that Trudeau never said it was one time.

“If it happened last week, it would shock me to the core,” he said. “But things that happened 20 years ago? Different time."

Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2019

RELATED


On a scale of 1-10, how likely are you to recommend the Journal Pioneer?


Recent Stories