war criminals at large in montreal

From Canadian Press, in Metro.
As George W. Bush cracked jokes with a business crowd inside a hotel ballroom Thursday, hundreds of people outside the building cheered while he was being burned in effigy.

Police in riot gear and others on horseback held back a crowd of hundreds, including many people who tossed shoes at Montreal's historic Queen Elizabeth Hotel in a demonstration of disdain for the man speaking inside.

Protesters who tried forcing their way through the line of shield-and baton-carrying police were wrestled to the ground and arrested.

Montreal police said several officers were hit by flying objects, but none were injured. Five people were arrested for mischief and disturbing the peace.

Ironically, this demonstration took place outside the same hotel where John Lennon's antiwar anthem "Give Peace a Chance" was recorded in 1969.

Chants of "George Bush terrorist" echoed in the street as protesters lashed out at the Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal for rolling out the red carpet for him.

Some of the 300 protesters said he should have been arrested and charged with war crimes instead.

Inside the hotel, nearly 1,000 spectators paid as much as $400 to hear Bush speak during the latest stop on his Canadian tour.

He got a standing ovation when he first took the podium to address the eager audience.

"I believe in free speech - except not today," he quipped, drawing laughs and a huge applause.

Many in the highly supportive crowd guffawed at most of Bush's jokes. The first 10 minutes of his 37-minute speech could have been mistaken for a standup routine.

In his first visit to Montreal, the former U.S. president warmed up his audience by referring to local hockey legends Maurice and Henri Richard.

"I was an avid sports fan (growing up) and I actually knew who the Rocket and the Pocket Rocket were," Bush recalled of his childhood days in the "deserts of west Texas."

Other cracks were more of the self-deprecating kind.

"Look, I hope you can understand me - I can't understand you," Bush joked through his thick Texas accent.

"As you might remember, during my presidency some of my critics made it clear that English was not my long suit." [More here.]

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