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)

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

Alberta had 1,571 active COVID-19 cases on Tuesday. THE CANADIAN PRESS
Alberta’s central zone now has 1,101 active COVID-19 cases

Provincial death toll has risen by nine

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
Alberta reports 1,731 new COVID-19 cases on Saturday

The province’s central zone has 992 active cases

(Photo submitted)
Ermineskin citizen graduates vet school, is part of busy practice

Dr. Justin Hodgson is rolling up his sleeves in Meadow Lake, Sask.

Shaela Dansereau/Pipestone Flyer
Wetaskiwin City services impacted by new public health measures

Public centers and availability to public impacted by the new public health measures.

Idyllic winter scenes are part of the atmosphere of the holiday season, and are depicted in many seasonal movies. How much do you know about holiday movies? Put your knowledge to the test. (Pixabay.com)
QUIZ: Test your knowledge of holiday movies and television specials

The festive season is a time for relaxing and enjoying some seasonal favourites

A B.C. Ambulance Service paramedic wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 moves a stretcher outside an ambulance at Royal Columbia Hospital, in New Westminster, B.C., on Sunday, November 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Top doctor urges Canadians to limit gatherings as ‘deeply concerning’ outbreaks continue

Canada’s active cases currently stand at 63,835, compared to 53,907 a week prior

A Canadian Pacific freight train travels around Morant’s Curve near Lake Louise, Alta., on Monday, Dec. 1, 2014. A study looking at 646 wildlife deaths along the railway tracks in Banff and Yoho national parks in Alberta and British Columbia has found that train speed is one of the biggest factors. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Study finds train speed a top factor in wildlife deaths in Banff, Yoho national parks

Research concludes effective mitigation could address train speed and ability of wildlife to see trains

A airport worker is pictured at Vancouver International Airport in Richmond, B.C. Wednesday, March 18, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Canada extends COVID restrictions for non-U.S. travellers until Jan. 21 amid second wave

This ban is separate from the one restricting non-essential U.S. travel

In this undated photo issued by the University of Oxford, a volunteer is administered the coronavirus vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University, in Oxford, England. Pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca said Monday Nov. 23, 2020, that late-stage trials showed its coronavirus vaccine was up to 90% effective, giving public health officials hope they may soon have access to a vaccine that is cheaper and easier to distribute than some of its rivals. (University of Oxford/John Cairns via AP)
Moderna chairman says Canada near head of line for 20 million vaccine doses

Trudeau created a firestorm when he said Canadians will have to wait a bit to get vaccinated

Conservative MP Pierre Poilievre speaks during a news conference Monday, Nov. 16, 2020 in Ottawa. Poilievre says building up the Canadian economy post-pandemic can't be achieved without a massive overhaul of the tax system and regulatory regime. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Conservatives attack Trudeau’s ‘reset’ but they have ideas for their own

‘We don’t need subsidized corporate welfare schemes that rely on endless bailouts from the taxpayer’

There were 47 new COVID-19 cases in Alberta Tuesday. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson)
Spread of COVID-19 in Brampton, Ont., linked to systemic factors, experts say

‘We’re tired. We’re numb. We’re overworked. We’re frustrated, because it’s not our rules’

A couple embrace during a ceremony to mark the end of a makeshift memorial for victims of the Toronto van attack, at Yonge St. and Finch Ave. in Toronto on Sunday, June 3, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Cole Burston
‘I’ve been spared a lot,’ van attack survivor says as she watches trial alone

Court has set up a private room for victims and families of those killed in the Toronto van attack

A person enters a building as snow falls in Ottawa, Sunday, Nov. 22, 2020. Ottawa has been successful in limiting the spread of COVID-19 during its second wave thanks to the city’s residents who have been wearing masks and staying home, said Ottawa’s medical officer of health Dr. Vera Etches. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
People to thank for Ottawa’s success with curbing COVID-19: health officer

The city’s chief medical officer said much of the credit goes to the people who live in Ottawa

Most Read