Pierre Trudeau may have a string of schools named after him across Canada.
But in the wake of opposition from Calgarians still fuming over his 1980s National Energy Program, the former prime minister’s name won’t be appearing on a public school in this city.
The Calgary Board of Education announced Wednesday it would be naming a new elementary in Royal Oak after the community it will serve.
Pierre Elliott Trudeau and Daryl K. (Doc) Seaman had also been put forward as possible names for a new school in Royal Oak, which will open to kindergarten to Grade 4 students this fall.
“In the past the CBE has, over decades, named schools after Canadian prime ministers. Mr. Trudeau was a very significant prime minister in Canadian history. . . . The (naming) committee felt it would be appropria
te to put forward that name for the community to consider if it wished,” said Trustee Gordon Dirks, who represents the area.
“It was a very overwhelming (public) consensus in favour of Royal Oak School,” he said.
The possibility of naming a school after the former prime minister responsible for the National Energy Program got under the skin of many Calgarians.
“What is this — a sick kind of joke,” Edward McMullan wrote in a letter to the editor.
“Trudeau ruined Canada along with his Charter of Rights and Freedoms, whereby the courts decide our destiny, over the federal government. He also instituted the National Energy program, which was disastrous to Alberta.”
Scott Clarke has two children who will be attending the new Royal Oak School and said in a letter to the editor he was “appalled at the audacity” of proposing Trudeau’s name for the school.
But others fired back on the Herald’s opinion pages, describing Trudeau’s efforts against Quebec separatism and to establish two official languages.
“Trudeau was a bold and charismatic visionary who helped shape Canada’s identity,” Michael Gretton wrote.
“Seaman and Trudeau are both worthy names for schools. However, perhaps Royal Oak is the most natural, least contentious choice of names, for the community this school will reside in.”