Past comments and actions have come back to haunt two political party leaders in the upcoming federal election.
For Liberal leader Justin Trudeau, it was several incidents of wearing brownface or blackface, the most recent in a 2001 yearbook picture while he was a teacher at West Point Grey Academy in Vancouver.
For Conservative leader Andrew Scheer, it was a 2005 video of his comments opposing same-sex marriage that resulted in considerable outrage.
In both cases, the incidents in question are uncomfortable, not only for the party leaders but for all candidates running under the party banners.
Some will ask whether the Liberal party can hope to be fair or respectful to any visible minorities if its leader showed incredible disrespect by wearing brownface or blackface.
Some will ask if the Conservative party is homophobic because of Scheer’s earlier comments.
However, it would be a mistake to reject either party solely as a result of these incidents.
Scheer’s comments came 14 years ago, during a time when attitudes towards same-sex marriage were quite different from today.
His views and the party’s platform today are of far greater importance than a comment made a decade and a half ago.
Trudeau’s blackface and brownface appearances date back even further.
Again, Trudeau’s views and the Liberal party’s platform today are far more important than pictures and videos from two decades ago.
Some may argue that the past remarks or past images are important because they speak to the character of the leaders, and by extension, the tone of the party. And yes, we would agree that character matters.
However, using past comments to make present judgements is not fair — unless those past comments are part of a continuing trend.
This election is about the present and the future. It is not about the past.
— Black Press
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