Begin forwarded message:

From: ALAN SKEOCH <alan.skeoch@rogers.com>
Date: September 29, 2020 at 9:24:33 AM EDT
To: Alan Skeoch <alan.skeoch@rogers.com>, Marjorie Skeoch <marjorieskeoch@gmail.com>, John Wardle <john.t.wardle@gmail.com>

Note…I hope this story does not seem silly…then again what if it does…who cares?
John…take a look…you do not need to send the story out if it seems off the wall.

EPISODE 129     PM PIERRE TRUDEAU VISITS PCI…and has to take a leak

alan skeoch
Sept. 2020

If the hat fits , wear it.  Liberal, Conservative, NDP, Green, Bloc….or no hat at al.   IN the long run Canadian political parties
are not that different…and that is something of which we should take pride.

Backwards!   We have not got our politics all backwards as in this picture.  Deep down we like each other.

In Canada, I believe we follow the Rodney King look  upon life.  Remember him?  Beaten up in California he asked the
police, “Why can’t we all get along?”  The  difference between Bananas and peaches, between tomatoes and lemons is
greater than the differences between Liberals, Conservatives, Greens and New Democrats.   We can ‘all get along.’  Let’s keep
it that way.  We can talk to each other.  Most of us do not even belong to a political party.


We watched the Trump – Biden show  last night.  Shocked!  Made  me think about the
day Pierre Elliott Trudeau visited Parkdale Collegiate many years ago.  that was 
a gentler time maybe.   But the more I thought about that visit the more I came to 
believe Canadian democracy has much to recommend.

One quotation comes to mind about the  Trump – Biden fiasco….”Democracy is a troubled spirit whose dream
if  it dream presents only visions of hell.”  That sure was the case last night.  Visions of  hell”
Even subtle suggestions of civil war.  A debate that was Out of control presenting visions of 
hell.    I  would not invite President Trump to speak to my class.   But I did indirectly
invite PM Pierre Trudeau to come … and he  came

(A Grade Ten class at Parkdale C.I, west end Toronto)

“OK, gang, I have an idea.”
The class hurly burly settled down and most of the grade ten
students at Parkdale Collegiate in Toronto seemed in a listening mood.
“I think we can cajole the Prime Minister to join us.”
“In person?”
“Yes, in person,”
“Why us?”
“Because our riding is up for grabs in this election.”
“What’s the plan, sir?”
“You simply write him a note…an invitation.”
“Would it not be better for you to write the note, sir?”
“Nope.  Trudeau likes young people.   He loses  patience with older people…particularly
teachers I believe.  Too pompous.”
“Any tips, sir?”
“Keep it simple.”

So they wrote a letter.   Several letters as  I remember.  Written in Grade Ten language with
minimum of flattery.  Hand written…straightforward, some spelling errors.   Most of the students did not expect
the Prime Minister would ever visit our class.   But they went along with the plan.

And then, about a week later, we got a note from the Prime Minister…quite  personal.
The answer was a “Yes” he would visit our school…hopefully our class.

Then the whole adventure took on a life of its  own.

Unfortunately the visit was taken out of our hands as  the whole school  got excited.

“We will have to open the auditorium for everyone.  This is a great honour.”

So the visit was not to our classroom and, really, our Grade Ten students were sort
of shouldered aside.  That did not bother them as much as I expected. It bothers me
today.  Initially I thought One of the students
would introduce the PM and another would  do the thank you.  That was the initial plan
but staff changed it a bit.  Our staff of 60 teachers got excited.  The visit got to be
teacher dominated which was partly my fault. Trudeau sent word that he would like to to a Q and A with 
the kids.  Insisting the meeting be student centred.  That much I liked.  There were other
aspects of the planned visit that I did not like very much.  

A few teachers got really concerned that some of our outspoken and out of control students
would make the visit into a disaster by rude questioning.  Like “Mr. Prime Minister you only
came here to get votes.”  etc.etc.   Wild, even rude, questions did not bother me as I believed
Trudeau liked that kind of questioning from young people.

No matter.  Some teachers  decided  to keep a close eye on our more outspoken students.
And I was asked to chair the Q and  A from the stage.  The visit was getting goddamn pompous
but I agreed.  In retrospect that was a mistake.  A student should have had that job.  We had  
students that would have done a fine job sitting on stage with the PM.  A shy student would
have been terrific.  The PM would have liked that I thought.  

In short , we over organized the visit.  Too much teacher input.  Very little student input.
My Grade Ten class was not upset really.    None wanted the spotlight as I remember.
Now, decades later, I wish I had not chaired the meeting.  Trudeau would have loved to see
a student from the grade Ten class on stage.   He did meet some of them personally
though and that was quite wonderful.

As mentioned  the visit took a life of its own.  I was surprised when a day before
the official visit an RCMP detachment arrived with a sniffer dog…or maybe more than
one sniffer dog.  They did  not announce their presence but searched and smelled
the whole school  from basement even to the roof.  A search for bombs.  Wow!
This visit was getting the full treatment.   

Then, the next day, the PM arrived  with an escort of unmarked vehicles.  He had bodyguards
and also  political people with him.  But it was Trudeau who led the group.  We greeted
him at the front door.   Shook hands  He seemed a bit agitated.

“Thanks  for coming…(what should I call him?  I decided to use no special term)…My
class is very excited…flattered.”

PM Trudeau stil seemed a bit agitated when he leaned closer to me saying:

“Where can  I take a leak?”

“The principal’s office over here.”

And so he disappeared for a leak.

At this point one of our teachers sort of bulled through the crowd.  “Where is the
Prime Minister?  I just love him.”

I pointed to the Principal’s office and she zipped away in that direction.  She went
right into the office.   Trudeau  was taking a leak.  Apparently she stood  outside
the washroom door and greeted him.  I think he took that rudeness in his stride.
His bodyguards could not stop her.  I do not think a  CNR locomotive could have
stopped her.  It was no big deal anyway.

What is my point?  Not much.  It is just so human.  Nothing special…a normal

Trudeau then took to the stage.  He stood with an open microphone taking
questions from the kids just like any teacher wold have done in class.  it was
very laid back.  I was not needed on the stage snd had the good sense to
sit there and  keep my mouth shut.  Even when one  teacher moved in
on a student who seemed bent on embarrassing the Prime Minister. The kid
was removed.  Too bad.  Trudeau  would have liked a few sparks  flying.


Really our student experience  with political life in Canada was very relaxed…friendly, honest,
straight answers to questions.  The visit lacked pomposity.   It was so far
distant from the Trump – Biden debate.   Polite. Maybe  even boring.

What would  I do  if facing students today after the insult laden American Presidential 
debate?   How could I be impartial if I was an American teacher.  One thought 
came to mind.  “Democracy can  only work well if there are two political parties
that are not distant from each other…parties that we would  call centrists…neither
extreme left nor extreme right.   Parties not so filled with hate for each other that
they welcome the prospect of  violence.”   I read  something life that somewhere.
Seemed sensible to me.  I am not a member of any political party and have voted
for all three on different occasions.

Certainly I do not see the rift between parties as  deep and
hostile … The Grand  Canyon.   Full hatred.  Fire and Brimstone.  And 
that has a fascination for sure.  

Our political life cannot compare.   Boring.  Nice.  The Prime Minister
has to take a leak.  The school staff worry he might be asked a rude
question.  The  Prime  Minister, Pierre Elliott Trudeau, responds to an invitation
by Grade Ten students.   So ordinary.  So nice.  No apologies.

You want to know something I suspected?  I do not think many of
my students knew whether Trudeau was a Liberal or a Conservative.
There was no big difference.  And that…that makes all the difference.

alan skeoch
Sept. 29, 2020

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