Nfld. & Labrador

Green Party candidate Greg Malone speaks out about own past using brownface

In wake of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's brownface scandal, the Green Party candidate for Avalon is speaking out about his own past.

Greg Malone says he wore brownface while playing Gandhi on Codco

Greg Malone says he would not participate in black or brownface now. (CBC)

In the wake of Liberal leader Justin Trudeau's brownface scandal, the Green Party candidate for Avalon is speaking out about his own past.

Greg Malone says he called the Green Party shortly after Trudeau's pictures surfaced to share that he painted his face brown and portrayed Mahatma Gandhi in a sketch while on Codco, which ran on CBC Television in the late 1980's and early 1990's.

Malone also acted in a comedy special called Flower Hill: The Best Christmas Ever in which another actor, Kent Brown, appears in blackface as a character named Omar, something he objected to during the special's production. 

This is a screengrab of the video posted on Facebook by Big Jib Productions, featuring the character Omar, played by Kent Brown, a white actor in blackface. (Big Jib Productions/Facebook)

"I was quite against that at the time. I fought and fought and fought for him not to do it but he was determined to do it," Malone said. 

"He was the producer so there was nothing I could really do about it, except I suppose I could have not done the show, and perhaps I should have not done the show."

Malone said he knew back then it was wrong but now would never participate in something like that. 

Although realizing it's not right, he said there were a lot of white people who were dressing in black and brownface on television during Codco's heyday. 

Malone said when he dressed in brownface to play Gandhi, no one even mentioned it to him.

"No one flagged it. No one said anything, there was no criticism from it."

Greg Malone appears in one of his many roles on sketch comedy show Codco, which aired in the late '80s and early '90s. (CBC)

Malone said discussing the racial issues surrounding black and brownface is a discussion that needs to be had, however, and white people need to do a better job at putting themselves in minorities' shoes.

"White people are not aware of their experience — of course we are not — so we have to be made aware of it and we can change it," he said.

Party leader stands up for Malone

Even though Green Party Leader Elizabeth May stated that she was "deeply shocked" by Trudeau's actions and said "in this matter he has failed," May described Malone is one of the "most brilliant comedic voices" and said she is proud to have him running for the party. 

Green Party Leader Elizabeth May speaks at a campaign stop at the University of Waterloo on Sept. 17. (Kate Bueckert/CBC)

"It was in a context that involved being broadcast, not hidden," May told CBC News Friday, while the campaign trail in Calgary. 

May said Malone alerted her immediately about his Gandhi brownface following the publication of Trudeau's photos. 

"I am very proud to have Greg Malone running in Avalon, I sure hope he gets elected. He is deeply thoughtful, deeply committed to social justice."

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

With files from Lukas Wall