Source of Trudeau ‘brownface’ photo says only motive was public’s right to know

Vancouver businessman Michael Adamson says he did not receive any payment from Time magazine

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau appears in dark makeup on his face, neck and hands at a 2001 ‘Arabian Nights’-themed party at the West Point Grey Academy, the private school where he taught. (TIME magazine)

The source of a photo of Justin Trudeau appearing in brownface at a 2001 event — the first to rock the Liberal leader’s re-election campaign — broke his silence Friday to say he was acting with the public’s interest at heart.

Michael Adamson’s statement said his decision to send a yearbook containing the photo to a reporter at Time magazine “was motivated solely by the belief that the Canadian public had a right to see it.”

The statement went on to say that Adamson has never been a member of a political party, and he did not receive any payment for providing the photograph to the American publication.

The 18-year-old image of Trudeau — his face, hands and neck completely darkened by makeup while wearing an elaborate turban and robe to be made up like the character Aladdin — was taken during an “Arabian Nights” gala hosted by West Point Grey Academy, a private school in Vancouver where Trudeau was a teacher at the time.

Time published the image one week after the federal election campaign officially began, and described Adamson as a Vancouver businessman who was “part of the West Point Grey Academy community.”

Adamson said in his statement he had heard gossip about the photo because of his position in the private school community, and was able to obtain a copy of the yearbook to send to the Time reporter.

The controversy around Trudeau’s appearance in brownface deepened when he admitted to wearing blackface as well and more images emerged, throwing the campaign into chaos when the instances became public starting Sept. 18.

While the conversation around the incidents themselves — and Trudeau’s response to the political crisis — continued, some questioned how the initial photo had been missed by Canadian journalists and politicians, and instead found its way to an American magazine.

Scrutiny turned to Adamson, who was named in the Time piece, but was not immediately reachable by journalists looking to follow up.

ALSO READ: Jean Chretian on how Trudeau handled blackface controversy

Details first published in The Globe and Mail revealed Adamson was a consistent donor to private schools and other causes in Vancouver and was involved with an export company.

The newspaper also reported that Adamson had a connection to one of the Time reporters responsible for publishing the photo through his son, who went to Cornell University in the U.S. with the Time reporter. Adamson himself donated to the Ivy League school.

Adamson said he will not be making any more public comments on the issue, and asked for privacy.

READ MORE: ‘I shouldn’t have done it,’ Trudeau says of brownface photo

RELATED: Alberta premier calls Trudeau’s behaviour an ‘insulting, racial mockery’

Christian Paas-Lang, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Chernove set to take on epic 1,000 kilometre cycling challenge

A local Paralympian is taking on an epic cycling challenge. Tristen Chernove… Continue reading

From baseball stars to forest fires: Southeast Fire Centre water bomber has an interesting past

Tanker 489 is stationed in Castlegar this year, but in the 1960s it belonged to the L.A. Dodgers.

Cranbrook RCMP looking for vehicle, driver involved in hit and run

RCMP are looking for the owner of a white Toyota Corolla that fled the scene

Cranbrook Cenotaph names get a touch-up

Legion members repaint 166 names, marking three wars, for the first time in monument’s history

BookNotes: The Australian prison colony’s first lending library

The books brought over by various officers proved quite popular with the convicts

B.C. identifies 20 new COVID-19 cases, travellers specified in count

Pandemic total 3,028 cases, 51 people from outside Canada

Survey, hotline launched amid probe into racist blood-alcohol guessing game at B.C. hospital

Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond has been appointed to lead an investigation by Health Minister Adrian Dix

Canadian policing organization calls for decriminalization of simple illicit drug possession

Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police want policing focus of opioid crisis to be replaced with a health one

Filing deadline in RCMP sexual-harassment class-action extended due to COVID-19

Plaintiffs now have until January 2021 to submit claims for up to $222,000

Jamie Bacon pleads guilty to charge in Surrey Six case

The plea brings an end to a complex legal case that has spanned more than a decade

Hefty undeclared driver charges piling up, ICBC warns customers

Average extra penalty $2,971 after an at-fault accident

B.C. appeals judge’s decision to leave three clubhouses in Hells Angels hands

The province has filed two notices of appeal related to the B.C. Supreme Court decision

Conservation officers relocate Spirit bear known to roam northwestern B.C.

Bear roamed valley north of Terrace for many years

B.C. premier applauds call to decriminalize drug possession

Police shouldn’t struggle with health issues, Horgan says

Most Read