REGINA — Forty-five years ago, in 1972, Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau visited Miller Catholic Comprehensive High School in Regina. It was an election year, and while on a national tour Trudeau wanted to visit this nationally recognized school for which the federal government had provided funding.
School principal Liza Donnelly, in an interview with the Prairie Messenger, said that in 1964 provincial legislation included Catholic high schools in the provincial tax-supported education system; two years later construction began on Miller with the aid of federal funding.
Miller was a state-of-the-art institution and received national recognition in at least one Canadian magazine. In planning the celebrating of Miller’s 50th anniversary in 2016, organizers reached out to member of Parliament for Regina-Wascana, Ralph Goodale, to facilitate an invitation to the current prime minister to repeat the visit of his father.
After several false starts the schedules came together and he showed up on April 27 with a security entourage, to the delight of students, staff and trustees.
Trudeau’s entry through the front doors was greeted with squeals, shouts, applause and flashes from cellphone cameras. After greeting Donnelly — with staff and trustees lined up outside the principal’s office door — he was whisked away for a quick tour of the facility. He was shown the school’s Makerspace, where he briefly played with some of the robotics created by students. Then, he spent some time in the Grade 12 classroom of teacher Dave Hambleton.
Trudeau answered a variety of questions from the students, but made no speeches. “The questions asked were probably answered by him hundreds of times, but he was relaxed and respectful of each student’s question and they were respectful of him,” said Rob Bredin, photographer for the Regina Catholic School Board. He was one of the few people allowed into the classroom because of the limited space. There were no selfies taken but Trudeau jumped into the middle of the classroom and both Bredin and the official photographer for the prime minister’s entourage took several group shots.
A few minutes later, Trudeau was escorted to the main floor, down the main hallway and out a side door to his waiting vehicle and drove off leaving the school abuzz about his visit. The 1972 visit of his father was never referred to during the visit.
The prime minister’s visit received advance coverage on some radio and TV newscasts, but it attracted little attention in the surrounding neighbourhood and there were no demonstrators to interrupt the occasion.