Friday, February 13, 2009

Guess Who Else Is Coming North?

Bush to make post-Presidential debut in Calgary

With excitement over Barack Obama's first visit to Canada building, it would be understandable if the announcement of a former President's speaking engagement in Canada went largely unnoticed.

At least for the time being. When one is the President that preceded Obama, very few of your plans go unnoticed.

George W Bush will be speaking in Calgary on March 17th. It will be his first speech -- and believed to be the first of many -- since leaving the office of President.

Reportedly former New Brunswick Premier Frank McKenna will also be present. He'll host a question period after Bush's speech.

Many will rightly note that Bush is extremely unpopular north of the 49th parallel. Ergo Canada is an odd place for Bush to give his first post-Presidential speech. But if there's one city where Bush can be expected to be able to speak without an overabundance of fuss, Calgary is certainly the place.

“Alberta’s a very conservative province and he’s certainly seen as friendly to the oil industry,” said University of Calgary political scientist David Taras. “He’s choosing a safe place to go test his image.”

It's very much in character for this President to play it safe in regards to public appearances, and avoid dissent as much as possible. But if Bush is expecting a warm reception in Calgary, he might have another thing coming.

“He’s very unpopular in his own country and he’s very unpopular in Canada, at least according to what the polls are saying,” Taras added. “You never know, but I’m guessing there will be a cold respect rather than any real affection or admiration.”

It will be interesting to see how Calgary recieves the former President. But one thing is for certain: it certainly will not set the standard of how Bush will be received elsewhere in the world.

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