VANCOUVER, B.C., Canada – Canadian government officials have chosen to ignore a request to bar George W. Bush from entering Canada, but the issue is not going to go away, according to the lawyers’ group that first raised it.

Lawyers Against the War’s (LAW) Gail Davidson said Sunday that Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Attorney General Rob Nicholson have been formally notified of their legal obligations under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. She told them in a March 11 letter there is “overwhelming evidence that (Bush) has committed, outside Canada, torture and other offences” referred to in Canada’s Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Act, and said LAW can provide the evidence.

Harper and other government officials were also told that the act states “if there are reasonable grounds to believe a person has been complicit in any of these crimes, entry to Canada must be denied.”

However, neither Harper nor any other Ministers responded to last month’s request from the group. Consequently, LAW recently asked the RCMP War Crimes Section to investigate the matter and advise the government that Bush is inadmissible.

“We can only conclude that the Harper government has made a political decision to ignore the law and allow Bush to freely enter and leave Canada,” said Davidson. “Canadians are left to wonder why.”

Bush will visit Canada Tuesday, March 17, to give a paid speech in Calgary to a private audience. Davidson said the speech is part of an international speaking tour by Bush that began with a very negative reception from large and angry crowds in Brazil as he began a six-day swing through Latin America.

“LAW and other organizations will continue to press for Bush and other members of the Bush Administration to be treated and dealt with in accordance with Canadian and international law,” Davidson said. “We are confident this will mean investigations and prosecution for torture and other war crimes in Canada or elsewhere.”

She said demonstrations are planned in Calgary and that there will be a public demonstration and press conference at 12:30 pm on Tuesday, March 17, in Vancouver at the 800 Smithe Street entrance to the B.C. Supreme Court sponsored by LAW and to address the government’s response to the Bush visit.

Gail Davidson, e-mail: Lawyers Against the War, Canada

Lawyers Against the War