A large crowd of protesters is expected to greet former U.S. president George W. Bush in Surrey Thursday as he prepares to address this city’s annual economic conference.
RCMP are anticipating hundreds of protestors and say 104 Avenue near 152 Street will likely be shut down to accommodate the crowd.
Surrey RCMP Cpl. Drew Grainger said this year’s Surrey Regional Economic Summit has drawn extra attention because of public reaction to Bush – much of it negative.
“We’ve had to develop a robust and very structured operational plan to address some of the potential issues with that,” Grainger said, noting the city has arranged to have an area for people to peacefully demonstrate, as allowed under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. That area has not yet been made public, but will be announced closer to the event.
Police are watching a protest this weekend called “Occupy Vancouver,” which is modelled after Occupy Wall Street, where people in the U.S. protested the economy by camping out in the financial district of New York.
This month, a Twitter site is calling for an “Occupy Surrey” event at Surrey’s summit. Grainger said police are aware of the group.
On Thursday, Bush and former U.S. president Bill Clinton will be attending the Surrey Regional Economic Summit, along with a host of economic experts for the day-long event at the Sheraton Vancouver Guildford Hotel.
The inclusion of Bush has set of a firestorm of controversy among those who feel he should be arrested for war crimes, namely allowing torture of suspected terrorists.
Occupy Surrey has challenged Mayor Dianne Watts to cancel Bush’s visit.
“When WAR CRIMINAL Bush comes to Surrey October 20th, we will meet him with a FLASH OCCUPATION. Expect us,” a tweet posted on Oct. 12. Then the following day, it stated ” @MayorWatts Cancel Bush visit to Surrey or face #OccupySurrey.”
Last week, Amnesty International called for the arrest of Bush when he touches down in Canada.
“Canada is required by its international obligations to arrest and prosecute former President Bush given his responsibility for crimes under international law including torture,” Amnesty International said in a release.
Watts said Wednesday it’s up to the federal government to decide whether or not to take any action against Bush.
As to the propriety of inviting him here, Watts pointed out the summit is an economic forum, not a place for politics.