Liberal supporters in Hamilton gave Justin Trudeau a warm welcome to the city Sunday evening to show that they have accepted his apologies.
Last week, three instances were confirmed of the Liberal leader in brown and blackface: one in a 2001 photo made public by Time Magazine and two other instances from the 1990s. Trudeau has since made multiple apologies.
Supporters, candidates and campaign workers who gathered at a downtown Hamilton hotel where Trudeau made an appearance, said that they still are on board with him as leader.
Javid Mirza, head of the Muslim Association of Hamilton and former Hamilton Mountain candidate for the Liberal party, said that Trudeau’s decade-old photographs do not reflect the leader he believes him to be.
“I see a lot of people upset, a lot of people speaking…but I don’t see as much from the minorities as I do from the white folks,” he said. “And no disrespect to white folks, but I think we get it. We’ve seen his actions and we’ve seen what he’s done for our country. And I think he makes me proud to be a Canadian, so I would absolutely support him.”
Mirza also added that he spoke with his kids about the photographs and turned it into a “teaching, learning moment.”
When asked what Trudeau could do to gain the faith of Canadians back, Mirza said that he should continue to speak frankly so that the public can learn from the incidents and become better Canadians.
Serena Trisha Pereis also came out to the event to support Liberal candidate for Hamilton Centre Jasper Kujavsky. She said that she looks to Trudeau’s actions over the past few years rather than the older photos.
“Everyone has a past. He is a human being,” she said. “[People] should not take that as he’s not a good prime minister…because no one’s perfect.”
Kujavsky also confirmed that he still had full faith in Trudeau to lead the Liberal party.
“There are going to be difficult moments on any campaign and people will make their judgments,” he said. “The bottom line is the country is being well-governed and I think people are excited about the policies that are coming.”
The Liberal supporters who gathered for the welcome extended beyond Hamilton. Hisham Matar and his wife are residents of Niagara, but used to live in Oakville — they now take a two hour bus ride a couple times a week to help support Pam Damoff, the incumbent for Oakville-North Burlington.
Matar said that people should judge Trudeau based on how he has delivered on promises and the “authenticity” he brings to politics.
“When was the last time we’ve seen a politician who has the authenticity over a course of two days, three times apologizes and asks for forgiveness,” he said. “I am past the SNC-Lavalin, I am passed the blackface and brownface. It hurts, and it still hurts, but we’re beyond that.”
When Trudeau arrived at his hotel on King Street West, he crossed the street to mingle with a diverse crowd of between 100 and 200 crowd that had gathered. Trudeau shook hands and took photos with his supporters before heading inside. The crowd broke out into chants, some guided by the Liberal team and others spontaneously, of “team Trudeau” and “four more years.”
Trudeau is in the city to make a policy announcement tomorrow morning.