Trudeau ascended to the position in 2015 and was re-elected for a second term last year, but along the way, he has had to fess up and apologize for a blackface scandal and mocking an indigenous protester.
Here are five controversies that have surrounded the 48-year-old leader:
Images emerge of Trudeau wearing blackface
Trudeau sparked an uproar in September 2019 when a video and several images surfaced of him wearing blackface in his younger years.
A clip obtained by Global News – which was shot in the 1990s — showed Trudeau covered in dark makeup with his hands in the air laughing, sticking out his tongue and making faces. His arms and legs were covered in black makeup as well.
Trudeau apologized after a school yearbook image emerged of him wearing dark makeup and a turban at an “Arabian Nights” party in 2001. (West Point Grey Academy)
Images also surfaced showing Trudeau wearing dark makeup and a turban at an “Arabian Nights” party in 2001, and wearing an afro wig and singing the Jamaican song “Day-O” during a talent show in the early 1990s at a high school.
“I should have known better then but I didn’t, and I am deeply sorry for it,” Trudeau said. “I’m going to ask Canadians to forgive me for what I did. I shouldn’t have done that. I take responsibility for it.”
Blunders mount during a trip to India
Trudeau traveled overseas in 2018 in hopes of building Canada-India relations but ended up directing the spotlight toward himself instead – and not in a good way.
His office had to backpedal after a man convicted of attempting to kill an Indian Cabinet minister in Canada in 1986 was invited to a Trudeau party there.
Trudeau’s staff said the invitation for Jaspal Atwal was a mistake and was rescinded as soon as he was discovered on the guest list. However, during the state visit, Atwal showed up at a reception in Mumbai and was photographed with Sophie Gregoire Trudeau, the prime minister’s wife.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau with his wife Sophie Gregoire, daughter Ella Grace and son Xavier, during their visit to the holy Sikh shrine of Golden temple in Amritsar, India, in 2018.
Trudeau and his family also were roasted by the Indian media for traveling around the country while wearing what critics perceived as an over-the-top wardrobe.
Indian media outlets called out the Trudeaus for trying too hard, with Outlook India dubbing their looks “too Indian even for an Indian.”
Trudeau accused of violating ethics laws
Canada’s ethics commissioner, in 2019, accused Trudeau of pressuring the country’s former attorney general to drop a criminal case against a Montreal-based engineering firm suspected of bribing Libyan officials to secure contracts.
The accusation came after Jody Wilson-Raybould testified that she experienced a sustained effort – including “veiled threats” — by many people in Trudeau’s government to inappropriately interfere in the prosecution of SNC-Lavalin, which employs about 9,000 people in Canada.
Jody Wilson-Raybould believes she was demoted from her role as attorney general and justice minister to veterans’ affairs minister in January 2019 because she didn’t give in to pressure to halt prosecution against a Canadian company accused of bribing officials in Libya. (Reuters)
Wilson-Raybould had released a secretly recorded phone conversation in which a Trudeau aide told her his boss, fearing the potential for job losses, “is determined, quite firm,” to avoid prosecution of the company.
“We recognize the way that this happened shouldn’t have happened. I take responsibility for the mistakes that I made,” Trudeau said after Ethics Commissioner Mario Dion released a report on the matter.
SNC-Lavalin eventually pleaded guilty to a fraud charge and was fined $213 million, according to the New York Times.
Trudeau mocks indigenous protester during a fundraiser
Trudeau sparked outrage in 2019 for his response to a protester that confronted him during a Liberal Party fundraiser at a luxury hotel in Toronto.
The protester was trying to raise awareness about mercury poisoning in an indigenous community and said Trudeau “committed to addressing this crisis.”
“Thank you very much for your donation tonight, I really appreciate it,” Trudeau responded while security escorted the woman away.
He later apologized for his words and said he would ask the Indigenous Service Minister’s office to become fully engaged in tackling the issue, Global News reported.
The ‘elbowgate’ incident in Parliament
Trudeau apologized numerous times in 2016 after he elbowed a female lawmaker in the chest while forcibly grabbing another member of Parliament.
TV footage showed Trudeau wading into a crowd in the House of Commons and pulling a lawmaker out in order to get a vote on euthanasia legislation started. But as Trudeau turned around with the lawmaker in tow, Ruth Ellen Brosseau, a former opposition lawmaker, can be seen grimacing in pain.
“What kind of man elbows a woman? It’s pathetic! You’re pathetic!” Tom Mulcair, then-leader of the New Democratic Party, was later heard yelling at Trudeau in front of the other lawmakers.
“No amount of escalation or mood in this house justifies my behavior last night. I made a mistake, I regret it, I’m looking to make amends,” Trudeau said the next day, according to The Guardian.
Fox News’ Barnini Chakraborty and Bradford Betz, Michelle Gant and the Associated Press contributed to this report.