But despite those public positions, a series of issues away from the cameras threatens to take down his chances of remaining Prime Minister in the federal election next month.
“Who is the real Mr. Trudeau? Is it the one behind closed doors? The one when all the cameras are turned off and when no one sees, is that the real Mr. Trudeau? Because more and more that seems like it is.”
Trudeau in brownface
“I shouldn’t have done it. I should have known better, but I didn’t. And I’m really sorry,” he told reporters on an airplane.
“It was something I didn’t think was racist at the time, but it was,” he added. “It was a dumb thing to do.”
Trudeau attended the event with friends and colleagues and was dressed as a character from “Aladdin,” said Zita Astravas, speaking on behalf of Trudeau’s party, the Liberal Party of Canada. He was wearing a turban.
In addition, Trudeau told reporters he also wore makeup when he dressed up for a talent show in high school and sang “Day-O,” a song made popular by Harry Belafonte in the 1950s.
Late Wednesday, CNN partner CTV News obtained a second photo from a source, who says it is a picture of Trudeau in a yearbook at Brebeuf College.
Trudeau came in for criticism from people across the political spectrum. His political rival, Conservative Andrew Scheer, said he was “extremely shocked and disappointed” to learn of the incident.
“Wearing brownface is an act of open mockery and racism,” Scheer said. “It was just as racist in 2001 as it is in 2019. What Canadians saw this evening was someone with a complete lack of judgment and integrity and someone who’s not fit to govern this county.”
In addition, Singh, the New Democratic politician to the left of Trudeau’s Liberal party, said it was “troubling” and “insulting.”
“It’s making a mockery of someone for what they live (like) and what their lived experiences are,” he said.
Scandal-filled trip to India
“Obviously we take this situation extremely seriously. The individual in question never should have received an invitation. As soon as we found out, we rescinded the invitation immediately,” Trudeau said.
Trudeau said last year that he did not remember “any negative interactions” from that day.
However, the former newspaper reporter spoke out in July 2018 and said the allegations in the editorial are true, but that she considered the matter closed.
“I do not feel that I acted inappropriately in any way. But I respect the fact that someone else might have experienced that differently and this is part of the reflections that we have to go through,” he said.
Wilson-Raybould, who later resigned, alleged in testimony that she faced “veiled threats” and “sustained” pressure to help SNC-Lavalin, a major employer in Canada. A conviction in the case would keep the company from getting government contracts for a decade.
Gerald Butts, Trudeau’s top aide, resigned amid accusations he pressured the former attorney general. Jane Philpott, who had held several jobs in Trudeau’s Cabinet before becoming Treasury Board president, also resigned, saying she lost confidence in the government’s handling of an inquiry into the allegations.
The resignations of the two Cabinet members hurt Trudeau’s vision of promoting feminism and helping indigenous people, Daniel Beland, director of the McGill Institute for the Study of Canada, said at the time. Wilson-Reybould is an indigenous woman and Philpott had been minister of Indigenous Services.
CNN’s Paula Newton, Huizhong Wu, Joe Sterling and Tony Marco contributed to this report.