No public, no press, no United States: Bush's first speech since presidency scheduled abroad
John Byrne
Published: Friday February 13, 2009

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Not even a month after leaving office, former president George W. Bush has joined the lecture circuit. However he hasn't strayed far his from presidential style: Bush has banned the public and media from his first post-presidential speaking event, and he's scheduled to speak in what a political science professor says is friendly territory.

That is the element that stands out: Bush won't be speaking in the United States.

His Mar. 17 speech, to be given before the Calgary Chamber of Commerce, a pro-business group, is expected to draw a private audience of 1,500.

A University of Calgary political science professor told Canadian television: "I think he's probably nervous about how he'll be received, and so Calgary's a safe place." He noted that the city is pro-American and more conservative than some other Canadian metropolises.

And yet, he said, "There is a lot of anger and there is a sense it was a failed presidency."

"It's our understanding it's one of the first -- if not the first -- times he'll speak since leaving office," the vice-president of public and government affairs at the Calgary Chamber of Commerce, Geoff Pradella,1 told the network. "I imagine it'll be a reflection on issues that arose during his time in office, and maybe drawing from that his perspectives on the way forward."

Ticket prices weren't disclosed. Organizers wouldn't say how much Bush was getting paid, but former President Clinton received a whopping $150,000 fee for a speech in Edmonton. Colin Powell and Rudy Giuliani both received fees for speaking to the group in the past.

A spokesman for the Office of George W. Bush in Dallas declined to go on the record.

Invitations say Bush will ruminate on his "eight momentous years in the Oval Office" and speak about "the challenges facing the world in the 21st century."

Bush left office Jan. 20 with an American approval rating in the low 30s.

Last June, even a Canadian newspaper decided Bush's approval rating was news -- the Ottawa Citizen announced that the ex-president's approval rating was the worst of any president in 28 years.