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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Photo: Jack Taylor/Getty Images

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's popularity was already deflating under the disillusionment that hampers many incumbents, particularly on the idealistic left, before 2 controversies that seemed almost unimaginable given his high-principled public image: first an ethics breach and now a racism scandal.

Driving the news: Since a 2001 photo of Trudeau in brownface at an Arabian Nights party was published Wednesday by TIME magazine, 2 prior instances in which he wore blackface have come to light. Speaking today, Trudeau apologized repeatedly but admitted, when pressed, that he was "wary of being definitive" about whether other images might surface.

The big picture: Trudeau’s Liberals had been neck and neck with the Conservatives ahead of the Oct. 21 election.

  • “But the Liberals were running a very specific campaign,” says Darrell Bricker, CEO of Ipsos Public Affairs. They “demonized" Conservative candidates by surfacing past indiscretions as evidence the Conservatives were "intolerant and out of touch with where Canada is going.”
  • The blackface scandal "takes this well-crafted weapon the Liberals had created over a long period of time out of their hands," Bricker says.
  • "They've also opened up the opportunity for the New Democrats," he adds. That party's leader, Jagmeet Singh, is a turban-wearing Sikh who has spoken passionately about the difficulties facing minority communities.
  • As for Trudeau, Bricker says, "Part of his appeal was his international rock star status. When you expose those pictures to people in the United States, to political leaders, how do they feel?"

What to watch: If 1–2% of Liberal-leaning voters in swing districts switch to the left-wing New Democrats that could tilt the election toward the Conservatives. So could low turnout. Trudeau won in 2015 by bringing in new voters, many of whom were young or from minority backgrounds.

Go deeper

Updated 1 hour ago - World

Over 3,000 detained in protests across Russia demanding Navalny's release

Russian police officers beat protestesters at a rally against of jailing of oppositon leader Alexei Navalny in Moscow on Saturday. Photo: Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images

Police in Russia on Saturday arrested more than 3,300 people as protesters nationwide demanded that opposition leader Alexey Navalny be released from jail.

Details: Demonstrations began in the eastern regions of Russia and spread west to more than 60 cities.

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Arizona Republicans censure Cindy McCain and GOP governor

Combination images of Cindy McCain and Gov. Doug Ducey. Photo: FilmMagic/FilmMagic for U.S.VETS/Michael Brochstein/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Arizona Republican Party members voted on Saturday to censure prominent GOP figures Cindy McCain, Gov. Doug Ducey and former Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), who've all faced clashes with former President Trump.

Why it matters: Although the resolution is symbolic, this move plus the re-election of the Trump-endorsed Kelli Ward as state GOP chair shows the strong hold the former president has on the party in Arizona, despite President Biden winning the state in the 2020 election.

Updated 6 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

  1. Health: Most vulnerable Americans aren't getting enough vaccine information — Fauci says Trump administration's lack of facts on COVID "very likely" cost lives.
  2. Education: Schools face an uphill battle to reopen during the pandemic.
  3. Vaccine: Florida requiring proof of residency to get vaccine — CDC extends interval between vaccine doses for exceptional cases.
  4. World: Hong Kong puts tens of thousands on lockdown as cases surge — Pfizer to supply 40 million vaccine doses to lower-income countries — Brazil begins distributing AstraZeneca vaccine.
  5. Sports: 2021 Tokyo Olympics hang in the balance.
  6. 🎧 Podcast: Carbon Health's CEO on unsticking the vaccine bottleneck.