Wednesday, October 21, 2009

LEAD Saskatoon director and city councillor among attendees at speech by former U.S. president George W. Bush; authorities fail to arrest war criminal

An audience of about 2,000 paid up to $115.95 each, including service charges, to hear former U.S. President George W. Bush talk about his eight long years in office. According to the StarPhoenix most of the crowd seemed impressed, giving Bush several standing ovations. [Ex-president defends Iraq war (StarPhoenix, October 22, 2009)]

The war criminal’s noon hour speech at TCU Place in Saskatoon on October 21 lasted all of 45-minutes, followed by a 45-minute “conversation” with Calgary businessperson and University of Saskatchewan graduate W. Brett Wilson.

Local right-wing radio talk show host John Gormley was the emcee. No surprise there.

Wilson’s questions were pre-approved by Bush officials. Organizers refused to reveal Bush’s speaking fee. No surprise there, either.

On October 2, Wilson participated in a Q & A with Saskatchewan News Network senior reporter Jason Warick. When asked if Bush was a good president Wilson dodged the question. “I don’t think my views on that are relevant,” he said.

Wilson said the former president is “a professional, through and through” and someone whose “integrity and honesty are above reproach.”

As for critics that say Bush a war criminal Wilson suggested it wasn’t “professional or respectful.” He said “people have the right to protest” but then called it “nonsense” and “disorganized chaos.” [Chat with Bush (StarPhoenix, October 3, 2009)]

It seems obvious where Wilson’s loyalties lie.

Among those attending the event were Vic Dubois, general manager of CJWW-AM, CFQC-FM and CJMK-FM in Saskatoon, and his wife Bev, the city councillor for Ward 10. The couple was seen standing in line outside before the event.

Vic Dubois is also a director of the political lobby group LEAD Saskatoon Futures Inc.

LEAD was formed in August 2003 — just prior to the civic election — allegedly as a response to the embarrassing voter turnout of 26 per cent in 2000. The group’s stated objective is to increase voter awareness and participation in the election.

In reality, however, LEAD’s primary goal is to try and get as many business friendly people as possible on city council.

tinePUBLIC Inc., a partnership founded by two Calgary entrepreneurs, Christian Darbyshire and Andy McCreath, were responsible for bringing Bush to Saskatoon.

The event was presented by Calgary-based Bedford Biofuels and sponsored by the Saskatoon Chamber of Commerce, The StarPhoenix, TCU Place, and American Express.

TCU Place is a publicly owned, taxpayer funded multi-purpose cultural and entertainment facility. The current board of directors includes Mayor Don Atchison and LEAD Saskatoon directors Vic Dubois and Don Ravis. [City of Saskatoon 2009 Municipal Manual]

It’s nice to see the public’s money hard at work supporting a warmonger like Bush as he continues the difficult transition from public to private life.

Taxpayers are also on the hook for Bush’s security bill.

According to the article Security tight for Bush Former U.S. president arrives today for speech (StarPhoenix, October 21, 2009) more than 100 private security officers, city police, RCMP and U.S. Secret Service agents were used.

Bush arrived by private plane in the morning and flew out immediately after the event.

Those attending had to go through a security checkpoint that included a metal detector.

The tab for the extra security is unclear, but each of Bush’s two previous speeches in Canada this year cost taxpayers more than $100,000.

Authorities at the event failed to arrest Bush for his war crimes. The illegal wars Bush started in Afghanistan and Iraq have claimed over a million lives – and they’re still ongoing. No U.N. Security Council resolution authorizing force was adopted in either case. [Congressional Research Service RL 30588 (October 6, 2009) and RL 31339 (August 31, 2009)]

The day’s only bright spot were the protestors that took part in a peaceful demonstration. CBC News estimated the number at 300.

The CBC noted that demonstrators were unable to boo Bush in person because he was taken inside the building earlier in the morning and avoided any encounters with the crowd. [Hundreds protest Bush speech in Saskatoon (CBC News, October 21, 2009)]

The rally’s organizer, Peter Garden, is the owner of Turning the Tide bookstore. Garden set up a Facebook group called the George W. Bush Welcoming Committee to coincide with the former president’s visit. It boasts over 2,030 members.

“I can’t in good conscience sit by and not mobilize against a war criminal coming to town,” said Garden in an interview with the StarPhoenix in mid-September.

A worldwide movement to put Bush on trial for war crimes emerged following the end of his second term earlier this year, he added.

With a trillion-dollar war in Iraq started on false pretences, the many thousands of civilian and military deaths, lack of due process for Guantanamo Bay detainees and the Abu Ghraib torture fiasco, Bush should be tried in international courts, said Garden.

“If there was any justice in this world, he’d land at the Saskatoon airport and be placed in handcuffs,” he said.

That being said, free speech is not something Garden wants to ignore.

“I’m not going to stop him from speaking, but I’ll voice my concerns,” he said. [Bush protest in works (StarPhoenix, September 11, 2009)]

Labour lawyer Larry Kowalchuk was on hand to address the crowd and alleges that TCU Place management refused to schedule any of its Muslim staff for work on the day of Bush’s visit. This wasn’t reported by the StarPhoenix.

Councillor Bev Dubois (in black & white jacket)

Vic Dubois (center)

Protest march heading east on 19th Street

TCU Place

Labour lawyer Larry Kowalchuk


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