OPINION: Blackface is not okay

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By Shawna O'Neill
OPINION: Blackface is not okay
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CORNWALL & SDG, Ontario – Whether or not what Justin Trudeau did nearly 20 years ago was racist, the defacing of our local Liberal candidates’ signs, which happened this past week, was.

I don’t know what sort of statement the persons who defaced Heather Megill’s signs were trying to make, but the statement that they made publicly is that they are immature and that what they did was far more racist than Trudeau’s blackface.

I believe that Trudeau did not put on blackface to be racist, and I think that the totality of his record as Prime Minister is more pertinent to this election and the future of this country than what he did nearly 20 years ago.

That being said, he should have known better by the age of 29, and especially by being the son of a former Prime Minister. If you feel that this 20-year-old failure in judgement speaks to his ability to lead, that’s fine, but then also consider that he has apologized for the mistake, and has worked hard to build reconciliation and promote multiculturalism in Canada, which is partially why this revelation is so shocking.

Consider the other side of the aisle. Andrew Scheer, the Leader of the Opposition said in 2005 in the House of Commons in a debate around gay marriage that “they cannot commit to the natural procreation of children. They cannot, therefore, be married.” Scheer went on to say “how many legs would a dog have if you counted the tail as a leg? The answer is just four. Just because the tail is called a leg, does not make it a leg.”

Scheer has never apologized for these comments and he has never said that his views have evolved. Consider what this says about his judgement and his ability to be a Prime Minister for all Canadians.

I’ve yet to decide who I will be voting for in this election. The Liberals have disappointed me on a number of files.

We are two weeks in and what matters to me the most in my representatives, local or otherwise, are how they treat their constituents, their colleagues and their opponents. I want this election to be about real issues.

I commend our local Conservative Party candidate Eric Duncan and our NDP candidate Kelsey Schmitz for their statements condemning the actions of those who defaced Heather Megill’s signs. That is what real leaders should do, and the ones who committed this racist act of vandalism, could learn a lot by following their examples.

I saw some comment on our story about the defacing of Megill’s signs that she deserved it for running with the Liberals and Justin Trudeau. Again, no. You can’t rail against Trudeau’s blackface and say that defacing a candidate’s sign in the same way is okay.

Calgary’s Muslim Mayor Naheed Nenshi wrote an opinion piece in The Washington Post this week on the topic of Trudeau’s blackface.

We cannot stand on moral high ground calling out leaders for offensive things they did, years ago, if we’re not also willing to stand up against the racist and discriminatory behavior that’s right in front of our faces in 2019,” he wrote. “We cannot choose our values a la carte when they benefit us — we need to be all-in, all the time.”

Being “all-in” on fighting discrimination against all is what I believe should be the real measure of our candidates and will weigh heavily on me when I go to the ballot box later in October.

Finally, I really hope that none of the emails, letters and comments I get in response to this column are from anyone hypocritical enough to criticize this message if they have some poor failing of judgement in their past that they aren’t proud of, especially if they have ever said a racist or homophobic slur or worn blackface themselves.

Have a comment on this opinion piece? Email me a Letter to the Editor to nseebruch@seawaynews.media

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