Stelmach won’t attend speech by former U.S. president

EDMONTON — Alberta’s premier won’t be among those attending a speech by former U.S. president George W. Bush when he comes to Edmonton.

EDMONTON — Alberta’s premier won’t be among those attending a speech by former U.S. president George W. Bush when he comes to Edmonton.

Asked Tuesday if he would be attending the Oct. 20 event at Edmonton’s Shaw Conference Centre, Premier Ed Stelmach was unclear in his answer.

Later, Stelmach spokesman Tom Olsen said his boss wasn’t aware until Tuesday of Bush’s speech and is tied up with other business on that date.

“The premier didn’t know the former president was speaking, and at this point has no plans to attend,” said Olsen. “That shouldn’t be viewed as a snub or otherwise. It’s simply scheduling.”

In March, 450 protesters turned up for a Bush speech in Calgary that drew 1,500 people. Many chanted slogans accusing Bush of being a war criminal and four protesters were charged.

When Stelmach was asked in February what he thought of Bush planning to speak in Calgary in March, the premier appeared lukewarm on the idea.

“He’s a free man,” Stelmach said. “He can travel to any country he wants.”

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