Former U.S. president George W. Bush won’t have to worry about dodging journalists’ shoes when he speaks in Calgary March 17, as reporters won’t be allowed in the same room as the unpopular Texan.
Christian Darbyshire of tinePublic, the group organizing the event, says news outlets won’t be able to listen to Bush’s lunchtime speech at the Telus Convention Centre. “It’s actually been closed to the media,” says Darbyshire. The Calgary event, called “A Conversation with George W. Bush,” will be the former president’s first public speech since leaving the White House in January. A table for 10 at the private event costs $4,000.
When former U.K. prime minister Tony Blair visited Calgary in November 2007 for a similar $400-a-plate event, journalists were allowed into the event to report on Blair’s speech. (TinePublic also organized that event.) “This is just a different event [with] different rules,” says Darbyshire.
Another group of Calgarians, meanwhile, is planning to let Bush know he’s not welcome in the city. “There will definitely be a protest,” says activist Grant Neufeld.
It won’t be the first time Bush is met with derision in Alberta. The U.S. leader also provoked protests in Calgary when he attended the Kananaskis G8 Summit in 2002.
Barack Obama replaced Bush as president on January 20 — the same day the UN’s special torture rapporteur called on the U.S. to prosecute Bush and former defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld for authorizing torture of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, thereby violating the UN Convention Against Torture.