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Brownface, Blackface and About-Face. Is Trudeau Who He Says He Is?

In line at a Tim Hortons coffee shop in Brampton, Ontario, a Toronto suburb, a conversation about Mr. Trudeau broke out among people who said they were immigrants who supported the prime minister.

“My kids wear different kinds of costumes and it’s O.K.,” said Jatinder Singh. “To me, he didn’t do anything wrong.”

Even people who thought Mr. Trudeau behaved inappropriately shared a similar sentiment. “I found it offensive,” said Rose Noseworthy, outside the grocery store where she works in the Brampton Mall. “But I don’t see him losing votes over that. I would still vote Liberal.”

[New York Times readers respond: Some see faults, but others lean toward forgiveness.]

In majority French-speaking Quebec, a region with outsize influence in Canadian elections, Mr. Trudeau’s pro-immigration stance appeared to soften the blow of the photographs.

The issue of multiculturalism has been center stage in Quebec in recent months, after the right-leaning government passed a law banning teachers, judges and police officers from wearing religious symbols while at work. Mr. Trudeau has firmly castigated the law, saying it is an affront to Canadian values.

In Papineau, Montreal, the electoral district Mr. Trudeau represents and an area with a dense immigrant population, Georges Azar, an I.T. technician who emigrated to Canada from Lebanon in 2008, said he would be voting for Mr. Trudeau again in these elections and the photos had no effect on his decision.

“I don’t think the photo changes anything,” he said. “What makes a difference is that it was a night with friends, with people he liked. Yes, he painted his face, but I don’t feel it was to make fun of people or to hurt.”

Suraj Shing, 35, an Uber driver from India, said he wasn’t voting for Mr. Trudeau because he was annoyed about his rising rent. But the photographs didn’t bother him. “Maybe somebody thinks it’s racist,” he said. “I don’t think so because he’s a very nice guy, he goes to mosques, he’s a very multicultural guy.”

Source: NYT > World News

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