Canada Calls Border Blockade 'Very Grave'

Ford says auto industry is suffering
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 10, 2022 7:32 AM CST
Trucker Blockade Hits Auto Industry in US, Canada
Trucks heading to Canada are stuck in heavy traffic after they were diverted to the Blue Water Bridge in Port Huron, Mich., Wednesday, Feb. 9, 2022.   (Mandi Wright/Detroit Free Press via AP)

Protesters are continuing to blockade North America's busiest border crossing—and the auto industry is starting to suffer. The Ambassador Bridge, which carries around 25% of the traffic between the US and Canada, has been blocked for days by protesters—most of them in pickup trucks but some in big rigs—who oppose Canada's COVID mandates, the AP reports. On Wednesday, traffic was blocked from entering Canada and US-bound traffic was moving very slowly. Ford said late Wednesday that parts shortages caused by the protest had forced it to shut down one plant in Ontario and put another on a reduced schedule. GM and Toyota have also closed plants or cut shifts. Traffic has been diverted to a bridge in Port Huron, Mich., causing extensive delays. More:

  • Ford wants situation "resolved quickly." "This interruption on the Detroit-Windsor bridge hurts customers, auto workers, suppliers, communities and companies on both sides of the border,” the company said in a statement. "We hope this situation is resolved quickly because it could have widespread impact on all automakers in the US and Canada."

  • It's the "last straw" for business groups. A group of more than 70 business associations from both sides of the border issued a statement urging the "federal, provincial, state, and local governments to work collaboratively to deliver rapid solutions to the illegal blockages of traffic," CTV reports. Windsor-Essex Regional Chamber of Commerce President Rakesh Naidu says the disruption is like "the last straw on the back of the camel" for businesses hit hard by multiple lockdowns and soaring inflation.
  • What police are doing. Police on the Canadian side have not disclosed whether they have plans to end the protest, the Detroit Free Press reports. Windsor police said Wednesday that nine arrests were made that day and 14 tickets were issued, but they respect "the rights of Canadians to exercise their freedom of expression" and peacefully protest. They said they are focused on "maintaining open communications" with protest organizers. Authorities say up to 75 vehicles and around 100 protesters are camped out on the main road leading to the Canadian side of the bridge.

  • Ottawa protest is now in 14th day. In the Canadian capital, a related protest entered its 14th day Thursday with officials still trying to find way to dislodge protesting truckers, the Ottawa Citizen reports. A judge has granted a request to increase bylaw fines to the maximum $1,000 Canadian, and city officials are looking into obtaining an injunction against the protest. Police reinforcements are expected by the weekend—along with more truckers.
  • They're "putting their foot on the throats of all Canadians." Bill Blair, Canada's emergency preparedness minister, called the situation "very grave" Wednesday and said the protest was hurting Canadian workers and businesses. "We've seen the criminal acts, acts of thuggery and the obnoxiousness that they've inflicted on the people of Ottawa," he said. "Now they're blocking the highways leading into our ports of entry. They're putting their foot on the throats of all Canadians."

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  • Trudeau "agrees this must end." Ontario Premier Doug Ford tweeted Wednesday evening that he had spoken to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau "about the ongoing occupations in Ottawa and Windsor." "We will continue working together to support our police forces as they manage these situations," he said. "We both agreed this must come to an end."
  • US convoy is in the works. The Canadian "Freedom Convoy" protests have inspired copycat protests in countries including New Zealand, and an American one is now gathering steam, Politico reports. The convoy, heavily promoted on encrypted social messaging channels, is expected to leave California for Washington, DC, on March 4.
(More Canada stories.)

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