Justin Trudeau’s brownface scandal has reeled many, as has the numerous apologies he’s offered. But the Canada he’s made is far better than the one he entered.



The Justin Trudeau brownface/blackface scandal. What a scandal. Especially in the middle of their federal election in which the Canadian libertarian darling — son of Pierre-Elliot Trudeau, Mr. “Trudeaumania” – is now struggling for re-election.

Talk about brownfaced and redfaced. It obviously wasn’t just a pigment of somebody’s imagination.

Seriously, the brownface and blackface issue has launched a dangerous “the emperor has no clothes” corroding image which could destroy the boyish Canadian PM. And, indicatively, this, on the heels of business corruption allegations when, it seems, Trudeau (the feminist) sacked a female minister because she tried to defy him over the business corruption allegations.

I want to examine brownface in detail but before I do, and before The Guardian exposes me, allow me to make a Hinch racist confession.

From about 65 years ago.

When I was about ten years old, the annual school fancy dress ball was looming. The Hinch family was poor and my mother couldn’t afford to rent me a costume from a backyard business which, come to think of it, used to make a poultice from renting kids costumes for special occasions.

Desperate, my mum concocted a cheap, last-minute, home-sewn costume. She draped me in a sheet. So good, so far.

She then made a headpiece out of a chopped-up pillowcase and some cardboard. And she scribbled on the front, in crayon “Klu Klux Klan”.

That is all the proof I need that my Mum did not know what KKK, the racist, blacks-hanging, foul clan (Klan) stood for. She couldn’t even get the spelling right on my costume. “ Klu Klux Klan”.

Back to the embattled Trudeau Jr on the campaign trail. The brown face photo released this week was from a yearbook from a school where he was a young teacher, nearly 20 years ago.

To his credit (and realising the possible implications from the left lovies) Trudeau went down the back of his campaign plane and told reporters, in refreshing mea culpa: “I dressed up in an Aladdin costume and put makeup I shouldn’t have done that. I should have known better, but I didn’t. And I’m really sorry.”

Brownie points for taking it head-on.

But hang on a flash. Aladdin was hardly white. Neither was Jesus. So was a bit of makeup colour wrong for Trudeau? Didn’t Sir Laurence Olivier black up occasionally in his illustrious theatrical career?

But then, as happens in election campaigns, several other photos appeared showing that Trudeau did the blackface mimic more times than once.


But then, as happens in election campaigns, several other photos appeared showing that Trudeau did the blackface mimic more times than once.


In his next apology, the Canadian blamed his perceived racist insensitivity on his ignorant privileged life as the son of a prime minister.

Big call, but remember his father (and I) were raised in a Hollywood era and the white man’s TV world of Amos and Andy and the (now) excruciatingly named ‘Stepin Fetchit’ – who was a black vaudevillian and actor. Real name Lincoln Perry.

Can you imagine, in 2019, that a black actor would have a demeaning personal pseudonym referring to an Afro-American as a grovelling servant?  Go step and fetch it.

And, obviously, Trudeau Jr, never watched Hey, Hey, it’s Saturday! where they also ran into a blackface controversy several decades ago.

I must admit, I felt a bit for Trudeau. I believe he believes. And Canada is an even more complicated indigenous country than Australia with Indian and Inuit (Eskimo) populations and tradition.

I was in Toronto and Ottawa recently (as part of a parliamentary delegation) and I discovered their state and indigenous issues are far more complicated than ours. And their state-federal antagonism and suspicion makes ours look like a cakewalk.

Trudeau has been a genuine liberal (lower case l) breath of fresh air in that previously stodgy country. Things like legalising cannabis. Young. Refreshing. A star.

When I was in Ottawa recently, I thought back fifty years to when I was a callow bureau chief for United Press International in Toronto and Ottawa.

The leaders weren’t rock stars then – nor rock star chasers. Middle-aged serious men. John Diefenbaker and Lester Pearson.

Canada was so serious and so dull and so straight that a common definition of a Canadian was “a person who can’t get a job in the United States.”

Years later, I stole the line and attributed it to Australia and New Zealand. (I also used to call my country of birth: the place where “baby Austins go to die”.)

I must admit, Canada was one of my least favourite countries to live in but the train through the Rockies was magic.

I’d have one word of advice to Mr Trudeau. These embarrassments can get worse. I was a foreign correspondent in New York yonks ago when your Mum, Margaret, left your Dad in Ottawa to chase after some British rock singer called Mick Jagger.

Speaking of face colours: For your Dad, that face was decidedly red.








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