Candidates react to Trudeau blackface scandal

Local Liberal candidate Kim Huffman says she supports Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s apology for donning blackface makeup when he was younger.“I thought it was sincere and he clearly owned up to making a mistake 20 years ago,” Huffman said Thursday.“This shows how things have changed. This photo showed up in a yearbook. Something like that would never make it into a yearbook today. This is definitely a teachable moment.”Huffman is among the candidates in Haldimand-Norfolk challenging Conservative Diane Finley, who is seeking a sixth term in the Oct. 21 election.On Wednesday evening, an 18-year-old photo of Trudeau, dressed in an Aladdin costume with his hands and face darkened, was published by Time magazine. He had dressed up for a theme gala at the private school where he taught.Trudeau apologized for having indulged in what he acknowledged was a racist act and confessed to another: wearing makeup during a high-school talent show, while performing a version of Harry Belafonte’s “Banana Boat Song (Day-O).”On Thursday morning, Global News published a video of a young Trudeau in blackface, showing him sticking out his tongue for the camera and raising his arms over his head, part of a montage of people apparently goofing around in a setting that’s hard to discern. A Liberal spokesperson said it was filmed in the early 1990s, when he was in his early 20s.Trudeau addressed the matter again at a news conference Thursday afternoon in Winnipeg.“What I did hurt them – hurt people who shouldn’t face intolerance and discrimination because of their skin colour,” he said. “This is something I regret. I should’ve understood that then and should never have done it.”Norfolk County native Jason Lietaer is a strategist in the Conservative Party of Canada war room.On Thursday, Lietaer said the blackface revelations are an embarrassment to the country.“It’s a bombshell,” he told a Toronto radio station. “It’s the No. 1 trending news story worldwide right now.”Finley condemned Trudeau’s behaviour but stopped short Thursday of calling for the prime minister’s resignation“Unfortunately, he seems to have his own set of rules,” she said.“I’m a great believer in democracy. I’m sure Canadians were shocked and disappointed when the story broke and when they saw how he reacted.“I personally don’t believe he is fit to govern. But I also think Canadians have a right and a responsibility to make that decision.”Bob Forbes, the People’s Party of Canada candidate in Haldimand-Norfolk, said it is ironic that a prime minister who has castigated the People’s Party as racist and intolerant should have a history of racial insensitivity himself.“I was quite stunned,” Forbes said. “When I first heard, I thought to myself, ‘Is this really true?’ Then social media exploded with it.“Justin Trudeau has to be one of the biggest hypocrites of all time based on what he’s said in the past compared to what’s going on right now. It’s like a bomb has exploded. I can’t imagine how difficult this must be for the Liberal campaign right now.”The New Democratic Party of Canada has yet to nominate a candidate in Haldimand-Norfolk.Brooke Martin, Green Party candidate in Haldimand-Norfolk, did not respond to an email invitation for comment by press time.— With files from Postmedia News read more

UN urges bold action to tackle deepening refugee crisis in Greece

“This humanitarian emergency is happening in Europe, and requires an urgent Greek and European response,” the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said in a news release.The arrivals are mainly in the islands of Lesvos, Chios, Kos, Samos, and Leros, according to the agency. In July alone, 50,000 new arrivals have been reported – 20,000 more than the previous month. The vast majority of those coming to Greece are from countries experiencing conflict or human rights violations, mainly Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq, according to UNHCR. Many are in need of urgent medical assistance, water, food, shelter and information, the agency added. The reception infrastructure, services and registration procedures are falling far short of real needs. “Such a level of suffering should and can be avoided,” said Vincent Cochetel, UNHCR’s Director of the Bureau for Europe, who last week visited Greece with the Director of Emergency, Security and Supply to assess the refugee crisis. “The Greek authorities need to urgently designate a single body to coordinate response and set up an adequate humanitarian assistance mechanism. As Greece faces financial challenges the country needs help, European countries should support Greece on these efforts.”UNHCR is contributing to the various efforts to address the situation, including through the provision of interpretation services, legal information and basic emergency assistance. It is also providing, with the assistance of a Greek non-governmental organization, escorts for the transfer of unaccompanied children from the islands to specialized facilities on the mainland. “Greece and Europe need to lead the response to this crisis, which can be resolved only through more solidarity within and outside the EU and increased alternative means to reach Europe for refugees fleeing from violence,” said Mr. Cochetel.So far in 2015, over 225,000 refugees and migrants have arrived by sea in the Mediterranean and around 2,100 are estimated to have died or gone missing while trying to reach Europe – not including the incident that took place earlier this week when an overcrowded fishing boat sank off the coast of Libya. read more