Media banned from Bush appearance

A major protest is expected outside the Sheraton Vancouver Guildford Hotel when the former U.S. president arrives in Surrey Thursday.

The media will be locked out of the appearance of former presidents George Bush and Bill Clinton at the Surrey Regional Economic Summit, organizers say.

It’s the first time in the four-year history of the summit that reporters and photographers are being shut out.

A release sent out by the Pace Group, which organizes the event, noted “the president’s session at 12:45 p.m. is only open to ticket holders of the summit. Media will not have access to this session.”

There will be no video feed or other recording of the event.

The presence of Bush has created a firestorm of controversy among critics who accuse him of war crimes, specifically allowing torture.

Last week, Amnesty International called for the arrest of Bush when he touches down in Canada.

“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 sent out in a release.

Now a group called Occupy Surrey is generating interest in creating a huge protest outside the Sheraton Vancouver Guildford on the morning of the event.

A Twitter account  called OccupySurrey has challenged Mayor Dianne Watts to cancel the appearance of Bush.

“When WAR CRIMINAL Bush comes to Surrey October 20th, we will meet him with a FLASH OCCUPATION. Expect us,” a tweet posted on Oct. 12. Then the following day, it stated ” @MayorWatts Cancel Bush visit to Surrey or face  #OccupySurrey.”

Police are expecting a huge group of protestors out front of the hotel and are expending to shut down 104 Avenue from 152 Street and 154 Street for the crowd.

“We’ve had to develop a robust and very structured operational plan to address some of the potential issues with that,” Grainger said last week.

He said police will be taking a meet and greet approach to the crowd, as was done at Scott Road and 72 Avenue during the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

@diakiw