A high school outing to see Liberal leadership candidate Justin Trudeau Tuesday in Fredericton was cancelled because of what students were told was a fear of political bias.
Grade 12 political science students from Fredericton High School were to have attended Trudeau's public meeting on Tuesday as a learning experience, but David McTimoney, the Anglophone District West superintendent, cancelled the school's involvement.
McTimoney did not grant an interview, but he said in a statement that he initially supported the idea of the students attending the rally.
However, he said he changed his mind after consulting with the Department of Education. After those discussions, it was determined the trip could violate a departmental policy that is intended to avoid events that could be perceived as endorsing a political party or candidate.
Most students from the political science class attended the rally anyway even if they did not have the permission of the district superintendent.
"I think it's kind of laughable to think that we would all just be so easily swayed one way or the other, considering we all chose to take a poli sci class in the first place," said Seger Dow of Fredericton, who was one of many students who went on his own.
Luke Beirne, another political science student who attended the Trudeau meeting, said they were interested in the political process, not a specific candidate or party.
Tom Bateman, a political scientist at St. Thomas University in Fredericton, said there is a difference between a public official who is supposed to be above partisan politics and a political rally.
Still, Bateman said the excursion would have educational merit for the students from the Fredericton school.
"After all, these are Grade 12 students and if they are still subject to some kind of indoctrination at this age, then someone somewhere hasn't been doing his or her work in educating them," said Bateman.
However, Trudeau's charm didn't work its magic on Dow.
"I thought he did a good job, but I wasn't wowed or overjoyed about any of it, really," he said.