An Official Visit – Yes, Prime Minister
While Brentwood receives a number of special guests each year, it is not often we are called on to host a national leader. On Tuesday, Prime Minister Stephen Harper, accompanied by his wife Laureen and his support staff, arrived on campus to deliver an address to the Conservative supporters of Vancouver Island, with Crooks Hall acting as the site for the hundreds of visitors from across the Island and the Mainland. Mr Harper’s visit to the Cowichan Valley marks the first time a sitting Prime Minister has come since 1952, when Louis St. Laurent visited.
Under the guidance of Mr Flynn and the maintenance staff, the Grade 9 boys and some of the Grade 12 volunteers laid out Crooks Hall with more than 700 chairs. In less than an hour, the room was transformed from a dining hall with tables and chairs into an audience. The cafeteria staff and their Grade 12 helpers were responsible for setting up the beverage area, where guests received a complimentary coffee, tea or juice as they waited for Mr Harper’s address.
More than 600 Conservative Party followers began to arrive at about 12:30, lining up outside of the Bunch Theatre where they were registered and received a security check by Mr Harper’s security detail. They then filed into Crooks to take their seats. The address was also attended by the Grad Class of 2014, who were invited to attend.
Escorted by the RCMP, the Prime Minister arrived at around 3pm, pulling up at Brentwood’s rowing dock in an RCMP police boat, then being carried by car to the Crooks Hall. He was introduced by Mr James Moore, the Conservative Minister of Industry.
Mr. Harper was very warmly received by the 600 Conservative Party faithful who attended the event and his speech was attentively followed by Brentwood’s Grade 12s and staff, but more than 150 protesters who gathered at the school gates were not as impressed. They vociferously expressed their displeasure with his government’s environmental record.
The Prime Minister warmly thanked his Conservative supporters, discussing some of the major accomplishments of the government, such as the federal budget, the Trans Canada Trail (a local arm of which is the nearby Kinsol Trestle) reforms to the Criminal Justice system and trade policy.
At the conclusion of his speech there was time for photos. Several Brentwood students and staff were able to have their photo taken with the Prime Minister. Mr Harper was then escorted back to his RCMP boat to return to the Mill Bay docks.
The Prime Minster’s visit was a valuable one for the Grade 12 class and staff to experience. Much thanks to everyone involved in the organization.
Joanna L, Alex ‘14