Former President Barack Obama endorsed Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for reelection on Wednesday, days before the Canadians go to the polls in an election shaped by Trudeau’s black- and brownface scandal.
Obama praised Trudeau in a tweet celebrating the Liberal Party prime minister as a “hard-working, effective leader who takes on big issues like climate change.”
“The world needs his progressive leadership now, and I hope our neighbors to the north support him for another term,” Obama said.
While the former U.S. president celebrated Trudeau, 47, as a progressive leader, Obama didn’t note the prime minister’s history of wearing blackface and brownface, which came to light in September.
The revelation that Trudeau has worn racist makeup has led to his sinking approval ratings, scuffing his persona as a liberal star.
Canada’s federal election day is next Monday on Oct. 21.
Last month, Time magazine published a photo of Trudeau wearing brownface makeup at a party for a private school where he taught in 2001. The party’s theme was “Arabian Nights” and Trudeau, 29 at the time, wore a turban and robe with his skin darkened to brown.
After the photo was made public, Trudeau admitted to wearing blackface in another instance ― when he was in high school to perform the song “Day-O” by Jamaican-American singer Harry Belafonte.
“I made a mistake when I was younger and I wish I hadn’t,” Trudeau told reporters the day the Time report was published. “I should have known better then, but I didn’t. And I did it. And I am deeply sorry for it.”
One day later, yet another instance of Trudeau wearing racist makeup surfaced, further clouding his reelection campaign. This time, Trudeau was wearing blackface in a grainy video dating back to the early 1990s uncovered by Global News.
Trudeau apologized again during a press conference after the video was released.
“What I did hurt people who shouldn’t have to face intolerance and discrimination because of their identity. This is something that I deeply, deeply regret,” he said after a campaign event. “I didn’t see that because of the layers of privilege that I have, and for that I am deeply sorry.”