About 200 Canadian protesters gathered to demand George W. Bush’s arrest Thursday when the former president attended an economic forum near Vancouver, Canada’s CTV reported.
Protesters repeated familiar cries, calling Bush a “war criminal” and accusing him of torture. They linked arms outside the forum site and chanted to the watching police officers: “Do your job and enforce the law!”
Demonstrators shouted “shame” as Bush came and went from the summit, which was also attended by former President Bill Clinton. The duration of the forum passed without incident, though that didn’t put a damper on protester theatrics, some of whom were dressed in orange Guantanamo Bay jumpsuits or covered in fake blood.
Others wore Halloween masks of Bush, former Vice President Dick Cheney and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, according to CTV. Another demonstrator waved a single shoe in the air, a reference to the 2008 incident where an Iraqi journalist threw his shoe at Bush as a sign of disrespect.
“I find it atrocious that our mayor would bring a war criminal into our city,” student Karsten Cattrell told French news service AFP, referring to Surrey mayor Dianne Watts who organized the conference.
Last week, Amnesty International called for Canadian authorities to arrest Bush if he entered the country and either prosecute him or extradite him for war crimes.
“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’s Susan Lee said in a release.
Royal Canadian Mounted Police Cpl. Drew Grainger told the Vancouver Sun afterward that there were no arrests or violent incidents during the demonstration.
“It went very smoothly, very much according to plan,” he said.
Grainger also said the RCMP had no “lawful authority” to arrest Bush, and that such calls could only be made by the Canadian government.
Chris Bennett, who told the Sun he was a Vancouver marijuana activist, said the fact that the anti-Bush demonstration only drew 200 people was “a statement on society that so few people have come out to greet this evil dictator which is what he deserves.”
“It’s a bigger statement on our society that he came here as a respected speaker instead of being arrested by the police officers,” he said.