Trudeau 'regrets' comments in Rolling Stone about Senator Patrick Brazeau

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he "regrets" comments he made about Senator Patrick Brazeau in a recent interview with Rolling Stone magazine. Indigenous activists have accused Justin Trudeau of using hurtful stereotypes in describing the Indigenous senator.

PM accused of using hurtful Indigenous stereotypes in description of boxing match in magazine interview

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he regrets his comments about the choice of then-Conservative Senator Patrick Brazeau, left, as his opponent for a 2012 charity boxing match. Trudeau said Brazeau, a member of an Indigenous community, made for a good foil and 'the right kind of narrative.' (Fred Chartrand/Canadian Press)

Facing accusations of using hurtful Indigenous stereotypes, the prime minister says he "regrets" comments he made about Senator Patrick Brazeau to Rolling Stone magazine.

"I regret the way it's been taken, I regret the choice of language that I made," Justin Trudeau told CBC Radio One in Vancouver this morning.

"The way I've framed it...doesn't contribute to the positive spirit of reconciliation that I'd like to think I know my government stands for. So, I regret those comments and the way it was characterized."

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke with CBC Vancouver's Gloria Macarenko Tuesday 1:17

Trudeau has been criticized by Indigenous activists for the way he described Brazeau, an Indigenous senator, to the U.S. magazine when discussing a charity boxing match held in 2012.

"I wanted someone who would be a good foil, and we stumbled upon the scrappy tough-guy senator from an Indigenous community. He fit the bill, and it was a very nice counterpoint," Trudeau told Rolling Stone.

"I saw it as the right kind of narrative, the right story to tell."

Cindy Blackstock, a prominent activist for First Nations children, says she hopes this is a learning moment for Trudeau, as his original comments are concerning.

"They reinforce this whole dichotomy, colonial dichotomy, of the savage and the civilized. The savage being Indigenous peoples and the civilized being the colonial forces," Blackstock told CBC News in a phone interview. 

About the Author

Katie Simpson is a senior reporter in the Parliamentary Bureau of CBC News. Prior to joining the CBC, she spent nearly a decade in Toronto covering local and provincial issues.