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Obama endorses Justin Trudeau for PM despite his numerous blackface photos

'The world needs his progressive leadership now'

Peter Foley/Pool via Bloomberg

Former president Barack Obama endorsed Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for re-election Wednesday, giving Trudeau a powerful black ally to help him overcome the recent revelation that the progressive Canadian leader wore blackface at least three times as a younger men.

Trudeau is seeking to remain prime minister after next week's elections, but last month his campaign was rocked by the release of photos and videos showing Trudeau with his face painted black or brown for various costumes. Trudeau apologized for what he had done — but also couldn't say for sure that those were the only times he had done it.

"I was proud to work with Justin Trudeau as President," Obama wrote on Twitter. "He's a hard-working, effective leader who takes on big issues like climate change. The world needs his progressive leadership now, and I hope our neighbors to the north support him for another term."

Obama and Trudeau have been friends since Trudeau was elected in 2015, and the two leaders have been compared to one another at times. Their friendship has continued even after Obama left office in 2017.

Obama's endorsement of a former blackface-wearing Canadian prime minister highlights a contrast with Obama's handling of U.S. presidential primary, in which he has not publicly endorsed any candidate. Notably, not even the man who served as his vice president for eight years, Joe Biden.

The BBC reported that some Canadians are uncomfortable with the endorsement as a form of foreign election interference. Drew Fagan, a professor of public policy at the Munk School of Global Affairs called it "unusual." Still, Obama is popular in Canada, and there is no evidence of actual interference at this time.

"Whether expenses were incurred, who incurred them and for what reason would be among the factors that need to be considered before determining if undue foreign influence has taken place," Elections Canada spokeswoman Natasha Gauthier told the BBC.

Obama has endorsed foreign leaders in the past, such as French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

(H/T: CBS News)

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