Large protest to greet George W. Bush in Surrey
Police are bumping up security measures around Thursday's highly controversial visit by former U.S. president George W. Bush.
Bush and Bill Clinton will be the featured speakers at a regional economic summit, where attendees will pay $599 to hear the former leaders speak.
Several groups, including Amnesty International, have called for Bush to be arrested when he enters Canada, saying he should be detained for war crimes and torture.
Surrey RCMP said they are prepared for a large-scale protest, and warned of potential road closures in the area.
A spokesperson said several dozen officers will be "strategically deployed" to deal with crowd control and ensure public safety.
"The Surrey RCMP respect the rights to democratic and lawful protest and is approaching this event no different than other similar events with a potential for conflict," said Cpl. Drew Grainger in a statement issued to media.
"We are anticipating a peaceful protest, however, those who unlawfully interfere or threaten the safety of any person or property will be dealt with quickly and held accountable."
One protester was charged with assault after nearly 250 demonstrators showed up for a visit by former U.S. vice-president Dick Cheney in downtown Vancouver last month.
The protest turned violent when some activists began attacking people who were trying to get into the $500-a-plate dinner at the prestigious Vancouver Club.
The numbers at the Bush rally could dwarf those at the Cheney event because many protesters from the Occupy Vancouver movement camped out at the Vancouver Art Gallery are planning to head to Surrey to take part.
Don Wright of Amnesty International has invited protesters to join their ranks and take a bus to the suburban city.
Wright is hopeful that the event will remain peaceful but admits they are just the organizers – and can't control it.
"We've indicated we intend to have a peaceful protest and if there is any violence breaking out we will back away," Wright said.
Police are hoping the violence seen in the Cheney event won't be repeated tomorrow and plan to set up a "protest zone" by closing off 104th Avenue between 152 and 154th streets.
Several people behind the Occupy Surrey protest took to Twitter to decry the boundaries.
"We do not respect the protest zone," read one tweet.
Grainger said police may run into "some difficulty" if protesters don't stay within the zone: "That's a pretty congested area there," he said.
Mounties will be deploying numbers to the protest similar to those seen during the city's Stanley Cup celebrations on Scott Road.
Several hundred protesters are expected to arrive at the site as early as 6:30 a.m.
B.C. Premier Christy Clark and Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts are expected to attend the summit.
Members of the media, as well as anyone who has not been prescreened by police and event organizers, will not be allowed into the Sheraton Vancouver Guildford Hotel, where the event is being held.