Bush speaks at Lennon's bed-in site despite protestors
Published Thursday, October 22, 2009 7:31AM EDT
Five people were arrested outside the Queen Elizabeth Hotel Thursday amid a protest against a controversial speaker - former U.S. president George W. Bush.
The former politician was paid $100,000 to speak. As many as 300 protestors turned up to show their disdain for the appearance.
Police in riot gear and on horseback are keeping the angry mob away from the hotel. The five arrested face charges of michief, disturbing the peace and interfering with police work.
Protestors burned an effigy of the former leader, tossed shoes and called Bush a terrorist.
"Five to 600,000 civilan deaths in Iraq and the man responsible for those deaths is being welcomed in a downtown Montreal hotel, and that man is being paid $100,000 dollars?... That's not about justice," said activist Jaggi Singh.
The speech, which focused on Bush's career highlights as president, was made at the same hotel famous as the site where John Lennon and Yoko Ono stage a bed-in and recorded the 1969 anti-war anthem "Give Peace a Chance."
Bush, who was invited to speak by the Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal, spoke to a crowd of 1,000, each of whom paid $400 for to hear the former leader speak.
Not everyone was upset by his visit.
"It's unbelievable. He's a charismatic speaker. He's very inspirational to me, and he's one of my role models," said a young woman after the speech.
Future Quebec delegate-general in New York John Parisella said he appreciated Bush for recognizing faults.
"What I liked was when he admitted there were things he could have done differently, when he talked about Katrina, the language he used," said Parisella.
Nine months after leaving office, the controversial president can still draw ire from activists.
"We are angry that the Canadian government is letting George Bush, who is a known war criminal, into the country even though that goes against the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act," said Concordia student Anthony Garoufalis, who helped organize the protest.