I’ve been trying to find the time to write this post, and I’m worried that I am rushing through it given a very hectic schedule of late. I am leaving for Vancouver tomorrow morning to attend the Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival. I love attending this festival. I love being in Vancouver this time of year. It’s going to be busy, predictably, which will make it challenging but still enjoyable.
I have some new pictures up on my photo gallery. My most recent pics were taken on March 17th, outside Calgary’s Telus Convention Centre, where George W. Bush was speaking at a luncheon in front of 1500 oil and finance industry-related people who paid $400 each to hear him speak about “a momentous 8 years in the Oval Office.” I was outside, amongst 200 protesters, adding my head to the count of those few Calgarians who weren’t appreciative of his visit, nor welcoming him to our city.
This was George W. Bush’s first speaking engagement and first public appearance since leaving office in late January. There are very civilized cities throughout North America and the world where he would not be safe and certainly not welcome. Calgary, as it turned out, was where he felt most comfortable in visiting. I talked to many people about his visit, including some that I work with, and the resounding opinion was one of ambivalence and complacency. I heard comments ranging from, “why would you protest?” “He’s not President any more.” ” He’s a normal citizen now.” “I’d go to hear him speak if it was free.”
Categorically, my opinion is this: Do I even need to explain myself and my vitriolic opinion about this person?
The value of my house has gone down since last year. People I know have been laid off. My industry, the publishing industry, is in dire straights, and my job in advertising has become considerably more challenging. All of these facts, and more broadly, the entire global recession we are each experiencing can be directly attributed to this man. His policies, his political and corporate allies and his presidential mismanagement are undeniably connected to the crisis we are in. He is and must be held accountable for his actions.
Frankly, I am ashamed to live in a city where this man is welcomed and paid a princely sum to speak. I am embarrassed that only 200 people showed up to voice their disdain. I am displeased that even a portion of the people around me, who I work with, pass on the streets and give the right-of-way to in traffic, financially contributed to this guy’s post-political career.
I feel worse than ever living in Calgary – I am clearly so very different from most of my fellow citizens who are either disengaged or laissez-faire about this repugnant human being, that I obviously don’t belong here (not owning a truck or voting conservative were my first indications). I’m not going on about his trampling of diplomacy, destruction of the American brand, his advocacy of torture, his political uselessness, nor his wasteful spending – those are different and largely American matters. Had he simply twiddled his thumbs while in office, the world could easily write off the last 8 years and I don’t think anyone would be so hard felt.
However, I and everyone in Canada have him to thank for irrevocably stunting our daily lives. To the complacent people around me, who didn’t find value in protesting or voicing displeasure in his appearance: this isn’t a movie. We weren’t spectators to his presidency. We lost our investments, our jobs, and our soldiers, who were sent to fight in a war that deserved more American participation (instead, Bush found more value, return on investment and better media coverage in Iraq). In a very real way he affected every single one of us and it is unacceptable that we let such a fallow individual to feel welcome in our community.
I’d never previously participated in a protest, and given the extreme opinions and lackluster wholesomeness exhibited by many of the enraged, super-left-wing dissidents, I don’t know that I’ll attend another one. But I’m glad I attended this. One of my mantras is, “stand for something or you’ll fall for anything,” and I couldn’t take a visit by Bush lightly.