Jul 312011

“Security… it’s simply the recognition that changes will take place and the knowledge that you’re willing to deal with whatever happens. … When you know that you’re capable of dealing with whatever comes, you have the only security the world has to offer.”     — Harry Browne

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George Bush was in Canada in 2009  (Calgary, Edmonton, Saskatoon and Montreal).

We were heavily involved in efforts to have him arrested.   Click on  Arrest George Bush.  Rule of Law essential to democracy.   It’s a  list of some of the efforts that are on-going through many organizations in the world to have Bush tried for war crimes.

The heat on Bush keeps building.  Earlier there were countries (Spain an example) where he did not dare to go for fear of being arrested.   He cancelled out on an appearance in Geneva (Feb 2011)  in the wake of loud protests by the Swiss,  calling for his arrest when he arrived.

Internationally, organizations are mobilizing around Bush’s appearance in Surrey BC in October, see “CONTENTS”  below.   Gail Davidson, Lawyers Against the War (LAW), is working on getting the legal arguments to the authorities (as we did in the 2009 go-around).   Splitting-the-Sky (John Boncore) who attempted a citizen’s arrest in Calgary in 2009 is already in action (item #4).

Please get the word to people in the lower mainland of  B.C. and in the American northwest  especially.   Peace organizations will want to know.  And others that come to your mind.   Thanks!

From the Calgary Bush event we learned WHO buys the tickets to hear Bush:

  • the big corporate law firms  (Bennett Jones Law Firm was a sponsor)
  • the politicians like to rub shoulders.

They are pretty fickle if they know they might be confronted with their duplicity in the breach of laws – – –  if anyone knows the law, it should be them!

Saskatoon, 2009:   I went thru the Yellow Pages and picked out the email addresses for the Law Firms.  Sent them a letter regarding the law and Bush and the requests for his arrest.  Also contacted the Law Foundation and sent the info to them.   To S’toon City Councillors, too,  early in the game.

The organizers went bust on ticket sales.  They had to give tickets away in large numbers in order to have the appearance of an audience.  Brett Wilson (of CBC, Dragons Den fame) was one of the organizers.  I contacted his lawyer, had a good conversation,  told him that the letters had gone to the law firms;  Wilson might at least want to know the content  – –  the package on Bush also went to him.

Word spreads in the old boys network, some are fickle  – –  or maybe they just need to have the breach of laws drawn to their attention.  They also need to be reminded of what they were taught in law school:  everyone is equal before the law, including Geo Bush.   The media doesn’t tell people the laws and the evidence of the breach of laws that Bush is responsible for.

Action items will come.  I searched for a facebook organizing group, didn’t find one;  would be great if someone would set one up.  For now,  let’s just concentrate on spreading the word.   Bush is scheduled to come.  We are going to do our part, same as the people in Switzerland.   The rule of law is essential to democracy and we are willing to mobilize to insist on it.

I expect there will be large demonstrations in Vancouver (Surrey) on October 20th.

BRENDAN WRITES, in response to the war-resistor videos  (2011-07-31)  Young people, another great video, the reality of war.  Let’s give them a hand (and help ourselves at the same time!):

Thanks for such a great video.  I am incredibly mindful of where we as Canada, or even “North America” are headed.  It has occurred to me that if an emergency event happens in Canada or the US, our troops might intermingle across each others’ borders and Canadian sovereignty will be drastically damaged.  Not only that, if Israel/US provoke or attack Iran as they are in Libya, the possibility of a Libyan/Iranian/Syrian alliance might be the next chapter.  And Russia is an ally of Iran.  Our borders must be protected as top priority.  We must choose our friends wisely . . .    

Brendan William Cross
Political Adviser , Regina SK  

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CONTENTS   (copies of the articles follow):

  1. THE ANNOUNCEMENT, FEB 01, 2011, GEORGE BUSH FEATURED SPEAKER IN SURREY ON OCT 20.     http://www.surrey.ca/city-government/8019.aspx 
  2. INTERNATIONAL CRITICS OF GEORGE W. BUSH EYE SURREY ECONOMIC CONFERENCE, FEB 9   http://www.straight.com/article-373686/vancouver/international-critics-george-w-bush-eye-surrey-economic-conference
  4. ARRESTING IMPUNITY:  CANADA’S LAW ENFORCEMENT SYSTEM PUT ON TRIAL,  MAY 10      http://rabble.ca/blogs/bloggers/campus-notes/2011/05/arresting-impunity-canadas-law-enforcement-system-put-trial

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Presidents Clinton and Bush at 2011 Surrey Regional Economic Summit

February 01, 2011

Surrey – Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts today announced that Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush will be the featured speakers at the fourth annual Surrey Regional Economic Summit on October 20, 2011.

“President Clinton and President Bush will appear together to provide their very unique and timely perspectives on a broad range of economic, business, and geo-political issues and trends,” explained Mayor Watts, who launched the first Surrey Summit in 2008 as part of her city’s economic development strategy.

Over the past three years, the annual conference has attracted a growing number of prominent international speakers and presenters, including Tony Blair, Rudy Giuliani and Steve Forbes, as well as British Columbian and Canadian business and economic experts.

“The Surrey Regional Economic Summit is an opportunity for us to learn more about major issues that impact our lives, our jobs and our cities,” added Mayor Watts. “The summit reminds us that we’re directly impacted by the changes created by the dynamic and often dramatic competitive forces at work in markets in every corner of the world. As a result, the Surrey Summit has become a big part of our city’s brand as we work to attract jobs, investment and business opportunities to Surrey and the region.”

Co-chaired by Surrey Councillor Linda Hepner, the annual Surrey Regional Economic Summit emphasizes business, investment and social issues impacting Surrey, its neighbours throughout the region and the province as a whole.

“The United States is the largest economy in the world, Canada’s biggest trading partner and the single largest market for British Columbia businesses,” said Councillor Hepner. “Having President Bill Clinton and President George W. Bush with us in 2011 will give our conference participants an opportunity to hear from two unique leaders who have played major roles in shaping events over the past 20 years in the United States and abroad. As a result, their perspectives on the new realities facing the United States and the world’s major economies will be invaluable.”

Registration for the 2011 Surrey Regional Economic Summit will begin in the coming weeks.

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Media contacts:

Tara Foslien
Office of the Mayor

Greg Descantes
The Pace Group

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2.    International critics of George W. Bush eye Surrey economic conference


comments Comments (8)

By Stephen Thomson, February 9, 2011

George W. Bush is one of the featured speakers at the Surrey Regional Economic Summit on October 20.

An upcoming Surrey economic conference has caught the attention of critics of former U.S. president George W. Bush, one of the event's key speakers.

Human rights groups, including the New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights, backed a recent plan to file criminal complaints in Switzerland against Bush.

The complaints focused, in part, on Bush’s approval of controversial CIA interrogation techniques that included waterboarding, which simulates drowning.

The Center for Constitutional Rights claims waterboarding is a form of torture. The group has cited the U.N. Convention Against Torture, an international treaty, in its push for potential prosecution.

However, the plan to file the complaints, on behalf of alleged torture victims, was dropped when Bush abruptly cancelled his planned visit to Switzerland.

But the human-rights groups have indicated they will keep a close eye on Bush’s future travel plans.

Katherine Gallagher, a lawyer with the Center for Constitutional Rights, said her group is aware Bush is slated to speak at the annual Surrey Regional Economic Summit on October 20.

“As we get closer to that date we will see what actions we’ll take,” Gallagher told the Straight by phone from New York.

“I think we have to strategize and think that through with colleagues up in Canada,” she said. “It’s the next visit that we’ve heard about and we’re going to be following up and seeing what we know about it and preparing for it.”

The City of Surrey could not be reached for comment.

Surrey mayor Dianne Watts has said Bush and former U.S. president Bill Clinton—the other featured speaker—will appear at the 2011 summit to share their insights on economics, business, and geopolitics.

“The Surrey Regional Economic Summit is an opportunity for us to learn more about major issues that impact our lives, our jobs and our cities,” Watts said in a statement on February 1.

Since 2008, the Surrey conference has drawn high-profile speakers including former British prime minister Tony Blair and former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani.

Bush has defended his approval of the controversial, post-9/11 CIA interrogation program.

In particular, he has said he approved the use of waterboarding on individuals in U.S. custody.

“No doubt the procedure was tough, but medical experts assured the CIA that it did no lasting harm,” Bush wrote in his recently published memoir, Decision Points.

Bush wrote the interrogation program “saved lives”, adding that claims of unlawful torture at the hands of Americans were “not true”.

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3.    Dianne Watts urged to un-invite George W. Bush to Surrey

Former president George W. Bush

Photograph by: Mark Wilson, Getty Images, Postmedia News

SURREY – Gail Davidson says George W. Bush is a war criminal and shouldn’t be allowed to speak at this year’s Surrey Regional Economic Summit in October.

Bush and fellow former U.S. president Bill Clinton will be the keynote speakers at the event.

Davidson speaks for Lawyers Against the War, a Canadian organization that wants bush charged with war crimes for authorizing the use of torture in Guantanamo Bay, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Canada is a signatory to an international treaty banning torture, Davidson said, and that means the federal government is obliged to deny the former U.S. President entry into Canada.

“If he does enter Canada, then the government has the obligation to prosecute him when he’s on our soil.”

Davidson said LAW tried unsuccessfully to block Bush’s entry in 2009 when he visited Calgary, but thinks things could work out differently this time around.

Davidson said Bush was scheduled to speak at a Jewish charity gala in Switzerland on Feb. 12, but the engagement was cancelled.

Organizers of the event said the cancellation was due to security concerns when it was learned protests were planned.

Davidson said Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts should withdraw her invitation to Bush.

“I think if Mayor Watts’ office is even modestly informed, she would realize that’s the right thing to do.”

Watt’s disagreed.

“I think they were trying to do the same thing with (former British prime minister and Bush ally) Tony Blair,” the mayor said. “This isn’t a political event, it’s an economic summit. It’s not about whether you like an individual, it’s about having a dialogue.”

The Now has heard from readers who question what advice Bush and Clinton can offer since both played a big part in creating the global recession that has crippled the economies of the U.S. and other nations.

“I get that,” the mayor said, “but here’s the thing. It’s important for us to know what went wrong.

“We need a dialogue about what worked, what didn’t work and what utterly failed. If you only deal with one side, you’re not learning the other half of the equation.”

The federal Department of Justice did not return the Now’s calls.

tcolley  AT   thenownewspaper.com

© Copyright (c) Surrey Now
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4.  Arresting impunity: Canada's law enforcement system put on trial


May 10, 2011

On Monday, May 2 a coalition of activists and civil resisters marched on Surrey City Hall in an attempt to school Mayor Dianne Watts on the voluminous domestic and supranational legislation that exists pertaining to credibly accused war criminals and other violators of human rights. Mayor Dianne Watts' ill conceived invitation to George W. Bush to come to Surrey, British Columbia to attend the annual Surrey Regional Economic Summit this coming Oct. 20 stimulated the demonstration, which was organized by Mohawk activist and author Splitting the Sky.

Splitting the Sky led the procession which marched peacefully in the direction of the mayor's office chanting "Arrest George Bush! Enforce the law!" Splitting the Sky presented Mayor Watts' communications specialist Tara Foslien with documents demonstrating the correspondence between Bush's self-admitted misdeeds and the Canadian laws explicitly prohibiting such crimes. The civil resister cited domestic legislation such as the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and the Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Act as examples of two legal bodies enshrined to prevent Canada from becoming a safe haven for war criminals.

Also in attendance was Professor Anthony Hall of the University of Lethbridge. Hall emphasized the need for law enforcement officials to transcend politics and implement the law equitably, regardless of the status of the offender. Hall addressed the many police officers present, telling them they will be told that "[Bush] is an 'Internationally Protected Person.' That is not true! [Bush] is a civilian. He is no longer a head of state."

The attempts to elucidate the illegitimacy of the proposed visit of Bush to British Columbia in October ought to be viewed as an extension of the citizens' mobilizations which began with Bush's controversial visit to Calgary, Alberta on Mar. 17, 2009. That visit was Bush's first visit to a foreign country without diplomatic immunity. After the failure of law enforcement officials to do their jobs and arrest the then credibly accused war criminal -- now self-confessed torturer -- Splitting the Sky courageously and selflessly attempted to breach the police lines and conduct a citizen's arrest on the former U.S. president.

During the subsequent trial in Calgary which some dubbed "The trial of Splitting the Sky versus George W. Bush," former U.S. attorney general Ramsey Clark -- Splitting the Sky's former lawyer -- and former U.S. Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney flew in to the oil-patch city to participate in the proceedings. The trial culminated with Splitting the Sky being given a conditional discharge by Judge Manfred Delong allowing him to avoid immediate incarceration. Some read this comparative leniency as a tacit acknowledgement by Judge Delong that Splitting the Sky was, as he submitted, being a conscientious citizen when he attempted to uphold the rule of law by seeking to arrest Bush.

The 'I was only following orders' defence

 According to a report in The Province, Norm Stowe, the manager of the annual Surrey Regional Economic Summit to be attended by Bush, stated via e-mail that "the city respected the rights of protesters to present their views but will have RCMP support to ensure the event is not disrupted [...] The RCMP have responsibility for security and we know they'll find a balance that allows people to express their views without risking the safety of our speakers or those attending the summit."

These comments, by the organizer of the summit show a distinct failure to grasp the main contention of those protesting the impunity afforded to credibly accused war criminals in Canada. It is the law enforcement agencies themselves, including the RCMP, who are being objected to as it is they who are failing to do their jobs. How is it that Norm Stowe can be so positive that the RCMP will protect, rather than arrest, the self-confessed torturer during the Oct. 2011 summit? Who gave the orders to the RCMP to reassure those organizing the event that their guests -- even if they're culpable for the most murderous of crimes -- will be protected on that day? All those police officers who opt to protect, rather than arrest, George W. Bush when he comes to British Columbia are putting themselves in a position where they can be accused of complicity in the breakdown of the rule of law in Canada.

Those law enforcement officials who shirk their duties to uphold the rule of law in Canada might well use the defence in the future that they were merely "following orders." This was the common alibi of many officials tried at Nuremberg and it didn't wash. If I were an ordinary bobby assigned to shield George W. Bush from the law during his upcoming visit I would ask myself serious questions as to whether my role might have personal ramifications for me down the line.

If a police officer arrested Bush in Surrey on Oct. 20, s/he could easily justify doing so to an independent judge before a court of law. Firstly, by doing so the officer would be doing his/her job of upholding the rule of law. Secondly, by arresting the self-confessed torturer, the officer would be maintaining civility and order as s/he would be eliminating any possibility of a confrontation such as the one that arose in Calgary when Splitting the Sky was compelled, due to the failures of law enforcement officials, to attempt to break through the wall of immunity and impunity and arrest George Bush. During Splitting the Sky versus Bush, the defence of those police officers who had obstructed Splitting the Sky from implementing the law was that they were keeping order during a lively protest. Surely the best way to maintain law and order would be simply to arrest Bush as this would remove the catalyst of the protest and maintain peacefulness on the streets of Surrey?

Joshua Blakeney is a graduate student at the University of Lethbridge.

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