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

‘Someone knows something’: a look into Vancouver Island missing persons with interactive map

There are more than three dozen people listed as missing throughout Vancouver Island

Parksville soccer player invited to elite soccer academy in Portugal

Wylee Franks aspires to become a professional player

Provincial COVID-19 data can now be used for B.C. to prepare for a second wave

In the past week, B.C. has seen a slight spike in daily test-positive case counts

Qualicum Beach volunteer Mark Watson honoured for 30 years of service at fire hall

‘He has such a good spirit in everything that he does’

Islanders want BC Ferries to follow order that lets residents board before tourists

For ferry-dependent communities, ferries are often the sole practical lifeline to work, school or medical appointments.

B.C. Ferries increasing passenger capacity after COVID-19 restrictions

Transport Canada 50-per-cent limit being phased out, no current plans to provide masks

Comox’s Kassidy Stewart takes Miss Teen BC title

She is set now to compete in nationals this summer

Shopping resumes aboard Nanaimo ferry sailings

B.C. Ferries reopens gift shops on Queen of Cowichan and Queen of Oak Bay

Genetic detectives begin work to trace spread of COVID-19 in Canada

The kinds of genetic technology being used for this project did not exist when SARS hit Canada in 2003

Amber Alert for two Quebec girls cancelled after bodies found

Romy Carpentier, 6, Norah Carpentier, 11, and their father, Martin Carpentier, missing since Wednesday

Island Health provides Baby Beds for infants

A safe place for baby to sleep is key to reduce sleep-related deaths

Sports fishers protest Fraser River Chinook closures

Public Fishery Alliance wants hatchery fish open for harvest

Most Read