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Occupy Ex-Presidents: Protests Planned for Bush, Clinton Event in Canada
SURREY, British Columbia -- Canadian authorities braced for protests expected to take place near Vancouver, British Columbia, on Thursday outside an event where former U.S. presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton are scheduled to appear.
Amnesty International called on Canadian authorities to arrest Bush for "war crimes" while activists announced Occupy Wall Street-style protests of the economic summit in Surrey where the former presidents were scheduled to speak along with world finance experts.
"We would prefer his home country try George W. Bush," said Alex Neve, secretary-general of Amnesty International Canada.
Neve said Bush should face trial for ordering the so-called enhanced interrogation, such as water boarding, of suspected terrorists.
"But the Obama administration has made it clear they do not intend to do that, so we are asking Canada to. We are not naive. It's an uphill fight but we feel we have a strong case," Neve said.
Across social media and the Internet, activists called for an "Occupy Surrey" protest similar to demonstrations in dozens of cities decrying Wall Street excess.
Several recent Occupy Wall Street demonstrations led to property damage and arrests.
Authorities in Canada said they were prepared for potential clashes with protesters, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police said.
RCMP Cpl. Drew Grainger said in a statement the force is going to "respect the rights to democratic and lawful protest and is approaching this event no different than other similar events with a potential for conflict."
The summit is taking place in Surrey, a city just south of Vancouver with a population of about 370,000.
Organizers are charging about $600 a head for an audience of about 500 people to listen to speakers, including Bush and Clinton.
According to the summit agenda, the two ex-presidents will share the stage for about an hour to discuss a variety of topics including "new realities of the North American economy."
The talk given by the two presidents is scheduled to begin at 3:45 p.m. ET and will be closed to the media, organizers said. The government of Canada, a close U.S. ally, has not commented on protesters' calls to arrest Bush.
But the country's Immigration Minister Jason Kenney told the Vancouver Sun newspaper the request was not being taken seriously.
"Amnesty International cherry-picks cases to publicize based on ideology," Kenney said. "This kind of stunt helps explain why so many respected human rights advocates have abandoned Amnesty International."
Last month, protesters appeared at a Vancouver event for former vice president Dick Cheney promote his book.