Friday, April 29, 2011

Stephen Harper's High School Reunion

Stephen Harper's 1978 yearbook photo
Stephen Harper is from Toronto. Yup. The world's most famous Alberta-loving Toronto basher grew up in Etobicoke. Not only that, he used to be a Liberal.

The teenaged Stephen Harper was first inspired to get involved in politics by his love for one Pierre Elliott Trudeau. And, like any good young Liberal  would, he started out by joining the Young Liberals Club at  his high school, Richview Collegiate.

Now, that just so happens to be where I went to high school, too. And having wandered its halls about twenty years after our current Prime Minster did, I  can't say I'm all that surprised. Richview, in my day at least, was about as close to being a private school as you could get while still being a public school. Not much diversity; lots of money. (To fundraise for our graduation trip, we sold cellphone contracts.) Harper graduated in the class of 1978. His yearbook photo, as you can see, was hilarious. His pet peeve was then, just as it is now, "Reality".

They say, it was Trudeau's National Energy Program that eventually turned Harper conservative. He was in Alberta at the time, just about to start studying economics at the University of Calgary. And the NEP, which raised taxes on oil, was loathed in Western Canada. Like super-loathed. (Apparently, a popular bumper-sticker at the time read "Let the Eastern bastards freeze in the dark".) Harper volunteered for Mulroney's 1984 campaign and never looked back.

Until, of course, that special day when we're all forced to look back on the embarrassing shit we did in high school: the day of our high school reunion.

Harper's reunion (and mine, though thankfully I decided to skip it) came in 2008. It was Richview's 50th anniversary. And it fell right smack dab in the middle of our last federal election campaign. Instead of missing out, our Prime Minister decided to seize the opportunity to turn the event into something of a campaign stop. The Star covered it all: he hit up the Crooked Cue pool hall at Royal York and Bloor for an exclusive alumni party the night before and then delivered a glowing speech at the reunion about how amazing Canada is. The same dude who has been known to call us "second rate" and a "socialist backwater" called us "a country with peace, prosperity and potential unlike anything humanity has ever known". He praised public schools for getting him where he is today. And he lauded Canadian democracy, which one election later he'd be dismissing as "bickering", as "a rare and precious thing."

Somehow, only one person in the entire crowd couldn't take it. According to the Star, they shouted "What about the environment? What about global warming?"

Luckily, two of our fellow alumni were there to defend the Prime Minster. One responded by shouting, "It's a hoax!" And another was quick to point out that a speech by a Prime Minister in the middle of an election campaign isn't really an appropriate place to make political comments. They were kind enough to yell back, "This isn't the place for that, asshole!"

Remind me to the skip our 75th reunion, too.


I learned pretty much all of the details of the reunion from the Toronto Star who published one article about his speech here and one about the party at the Cue the night before here.

1 comment:

  1. Is it true that the yearbook also stated "most likely to lie"?