Protests greet Bush's first speech as ex-president

Tue Mar 17, 2009 5:59pm EDT
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By Jeffrey Jones

CALGARY, Alberta (Reuters) - More than 100 protesters chanted "war criminal" and flung shoes in Calgary on Tuesday, angry that former U.S. President George W. Bush was in the Canadian city to give his first speech since leaving the White House.

At least two demonstrators were hauled away by police after brief skirmishes, as 1,500 business people in the oil patch city waited outside a convention center for an hour to pass through tight security and enter the C$400-a-plate ($315) luncheon.

Media were barred from covering the invitation-only event, during which Bush had been expected to reflect on his eight years as president.

According to sources who attended, he conceded that his administration spent its final days "bailing water" to keep the U.S. economy afloat.

However, the Obama administration should not let government become a substitute for the free market, and it should also avoid becoming more protectionist on trade matters, he was said to have remarked.

Although he was not Bush's first choice as president, Barack Obama has his full support, he said.

The luncheon crowd was friendlier than the one outside.

"He is a war criminal who fought an illegal war, and there are some who say he was never elected democratically, so there are some who say he should be arrested as soon as he comes here," said a woman dressed as a Guantanamo Bay prisoner, who called herself Ivana Nomobush.   Continued...

<p>A protester (R) gets pushed back by a police officer after he was trying to make his way into the convention center where former President George Bush was making a speech in Calgary, Alberta March 17, 2009. REUTERS/Todd Korol</p>