It’s the shoes, stupid
OTTOWA — Three Canadians were arrested and others threw shoes in protest against George W. Bush on Tuesday when he gave his first post-presidential speech in western Canada’s oil patch.
The footwear was tossed at an effigy of the 43rd US president outside a Calgary conference center where Bush was to speak to some 1,500 people at a luncheon, said Colette Lemieux of the Canadian Peace Alliance.
Some 200 protestors from across the country had gathered for the demonstration against Bush’s invasion of Iraq and rendition of terror suspects, she said in a telephone interview with AFP.
They traded insults with guests lined up around the building, and "three people were taken away by police," she said. "It was a heated rally, but not a violent rally," she added.
A Calgary police spokeswoman said one protestor had been charged with obstruction and assaulting a policeman. Charges against two others were not announced.
"We had shoes sent in (to us) from across the country," Lemieux said earlier, charging Bush is a "war criminal" who must be prosecuted for his former administration’s policies in the US "war on terror."
"It doesn’t matter that he is no longer president," she added. "A bank robber who stops holding up banks can and must still be prosecuted for his crimes." The same applies for Bush, she said.
The address, billed as "A Conversation with George W. Bush," was the first of at least 10 speeches to be announced in Canada, Asia and Europe, a source familiar with his plans told AFP.
The Washington Speaker’s Bureau, which is organizing his post-presidential speaking tour, listed the Calgary event simply as "Remarks by George W. Bush."
In its profile of the former president, it says: "President during a momentous period in American history, George W. Bush offers his thoughts on eight years in the Oval Office, the challenges facing our nation in the 21st century, the power of freedom, the role of faith, and other pressing issues."
Local media said guests paid as much as 400 Canadian dollars (315 US) each to attend.
Earlier, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation said Bush arrived in a private jet overnight and surprised patrons of an Italian restaurant when he dropped in for a bite to eat Monday evening.
"By all accounts the president was friendly, relaxed, cordial, (and) expressed many times he was happy to be in Calgary," the public broadcaster said.
Alberta is a generally conservative province with an oil industry that could be especially welcoming to the former president.
Bush reportedly drew a small crowd inside and outside the Italian restaurant on Monday.
Over the weekend, however, a crowd gathered in the city to protest his upcoming speech.