Aerial footage shows heavily congested Ambassador Bridge as truck convoy jams US-Canada border
Protesters in trucks opposed to Covid-19 restrictions continue to paralyse the centre of Ottawa as similar demonstrations have now spread beyond the Canadian capital to border crossing into the US. The Emerson Port of Entry in Manitoba is the latest to be blocked.
The Ambassador Bridge that connects Windsor, Ontario, with Detroit was first blockaded by trucks in both directions late on Monday, with the final access being shut off on Wednesday night.
As a crucial commercial link between the US and Canada it has quickly hit supply chains with car manufacturers including Toyota and Ford already announcing issues. The mayor of Windsor says protesters will be physically removed if necessary, and has been joined by auto parts manufacturers in seeking an injunction to clear the bridge.
In Ottawa, police have now threatened protesters with criminal charges. Approximately 20 trucks have been persuaded to leave and the police chief says they will be able to move more as extra resources become available.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has demanded the protesters go home, and the interim opposition leader Candice Bergen joined his call for an end to the stand off on Thursday morning, while also tabling a motion for the government to produce a timetable winding down pandemic mandates and policies.
In the US, the Biden administration is closely monitoring the situation, with a Department of Homeland Security bulletin warning of copycat protests hitting the Super Bowl in Los Angeles, and the State of the Union address in Washington, DC.
US urges Canada to end truckers protest
The Biden administration has urged the Canadian government to use its federal powers to end the ongoing truckers protest against Covid-19 vaccine mandates.
Homeland security secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and Transportation secretary Pete Buttigieg spoke with their Canadian counterparts and urged them to help resolve the standoff, said the White House.
With the Ambassador Bridge closed for the fourth straight day, supplies have been hit on both sides of the border.
Several automakers including General Motors have been forced to shut their plants due to parts shortages as a fallout of the protests.
In a joint statement the US Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers and Business Roundtable urged the Canadian government to act swiftly, reported Associated Press.
“The disruptions we are seeing at the US-Canada border — at the Detroit-Windsor Ambassador Bridge and at other crossings — are adding to the significant supply chain strains on manufacturers and other businesses in the United States,” the statement said.
“We respectfully urge the Canadian government to act swiftly to address the disruption to the flow of trade and its impact on manufacturers and other businesses on both sides of the border.”
Sravasti Dasgupta11 February 2022 05:55
‘Get off the bridge and let our people get back to work’
Linda Hasenfratz, CEO of Linamar, Canada’s second-largest automobile parts manufacturer, says they are watching the protest on the Ambassador Bridge “with concern” and call for the protestors to “get off the bridge”.
“We are watching with concern the situation at the border regarding the ongoing protest. The last thing any business needs right now is to be shut down yet again. Cutting Canada off from our biggest trading partner can ultimately have only one impact, reducing output.
“The last two years have been so disruptive to every one of us and our families with situations we can’t control; this one we can.”
She concludes: “To the protestors, please get off the bridge and let our people get back to work earning money for their families.”
Oliver O’Connell11 February 2022 05:32
Canada Conservatives push government to present plan lifting federal Covid mandates
Canada’s Conservative party is pushing for the federal government under Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to present a plan to lift all federal Covid-19 mandates following a call to the trucker demonstrations to end their protests, CTV reports.
Interim Conservative Leader Candice Bergen tabled a motion asking the government to present such a plan by the end of the month as provinces across Canada have begun phasing out their own Covid regulations in the wake of the Omicron variant wave.
The Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos acknowledged that while the country is in a much better place than two years ago thanks to the vaccines, there are still thousands of new Covid cases and hospital capacity remains stretched.
The Conservative motion will be voted on this coming Monday.
Oliver O’Connell11 February 2022 04:45
Auto groups join legal action against bridge blockaders as mayor of Windsor says they will be physically removed
Auto-industry groups and the City of Windsor, Ontario, are seeking an injunction to end the blockade of the Ambassador Bridge.
Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens told a news briefing on Thursday he hopes the injunction will be before a Superior Court of Justice judge later today, and the city “will work with police to enforce that injunction”.
He said of the protestors: “The individuals on site are trespassing on municipal roads and if need be will be removed to allow for the safe and efficient movement of goods across the border.”
Mr Dilkens said the main applicants for the injunction are the Automotive Parts Manufacturers’ Association and Canadian Vehicle Manufacturers’ Association, along with the City of Windsor and Chamber of Commerce “as supportive interveners”.
The mayor also expressed frustration that the protestors have no clear leadership and that the issues being protested over have diversified away from Covid vaccine mandates as the protest took on a life of its own.
“We can’t just let this lawlessness happen.”
Speaking to CNN he added: “[If] the protesters don’t leave, there will have to be a path forward. If that means physically removing them, that means physically removing them, and we’re prepared to do that.”
Oliver O’Connell11 February 2022 03:50
Trucker protest disrupting Canadian car production
Toyota says it does not expect its auto plants in Ontario to produce vehicles for the rest of the week, because of supply problems stemming from the protests.
“Due to a number of supply chain, severe weather and COVID related challenges, Toyota continues to face shortages affecting production at our North American plants, including Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada,” the company said.
Oliver O’Connell11 February 2022 03:00
White House: Ambassador Bridge blockade ‘poses risk to supply chains’
Oliver O’Connell11 February 2022 02:15
Ambassador Bridge owner says three ways to end blockade
Matt Moroun, chairman of the Detroit International Bridge Company, the owner of the Ambassador Bridge, says “we are only just beginning to feel the devastating impact” on the economy of the blockaded bridge.
“This cannot continue any longer,” he says on behalf of those whose livelihoods depend on the busy international trade route.
He suggests three options to end the standoff quickly:
1. End the protest by repealing the mandate and recognising that while the vast majority of truck drivers are vaccinated there are some who for many reasons are choosing not to get vaccinated but deserve to be respected and allowed to do their jobs and serve our countries with dignity.
2. Remove the vehicles blocking the Ambassador Bridge so commerce and trade can resume.
3. Do nothing and hope this ends on its own: an option that will mostly prolong the blockade, further crippling our economy and putting more jobs at risk.
He adds that the protest goes to show the importance of the bridge to international commerce between the US and Canada — once the crisis is resolved he would like recognition that such crossings are too important to be subjected to politics and short-term thinking that compromises commerce, jobs ,and the shared economy.
Oliver O’Connell11 February 2022 01:15
Copycat ‘freedom convoy’ pushed by QAnon could target Super Bowl, US agency warns
President Joe Biden may be forced to tackle trucker protests similar to those seen in Canada, potentially targeting the Super Bowl, according to warnings from the Department of Homeland Security.
In a memo shared with police partners and reported by The Hill, the DHS wrote that it had “received reports of truck drivers potentially planning to block roads in major metropolitan cities in the United States in protest of, among other things, vaccine mandates”.
Oliver O’Connell11 February 2022 00:15
New fronts open up in Ottawa protests
Frustrations and conflicts tied to the trucker convoy in Ottawa are spilling over onto new fronts Thursday, with police reporting “a concerted effort to flood” 911 lines, protesters mobilizing at the local airport and hackers taking aim at city council.
Earlier in the day, city officials had warned of traffic disruptions at the city’s international airport as the trucker convoy encamped across the city enters its 14th day, and some members appeared to be encircling the airport.
That now appears to have ended, but it remains unclear whether the group will move to a different site or return to the airport.
Ottawa police had told Global News they are “aware” of the convoy’s presence at the airport and shortly after, issued a tweet warning of attempts to target emergency lines.
“We are aware of a concerted effort to flood our 911 and non-emergency policing reporting line. This endangers lives and is completely unacceptable,” the police service said.
Oliver O’Connell10 February 2022 23:15
Ottawa Police have provided an update on the ongoing efforts to combat disruption
“More resources means a faster set of results to end this unlawful demonstration,” says Police Chief Peter Sloly.
He says 12 trucks from the Coventry Road area have left, as have ten from Wellington Street. Firewood and fuel are being taken from protesters and charges made. To date, there have been 25 arrests and 1,550 tickets issued.
Mr Sloly says progress is being made but more resources are still needed.
To demonstrators thinking of coming to the city this weekend, Chief Sloly says: “Don’t. There will be accountability for any unlawful activity.”
Mr Sloly says more and more Royal Canadian Mounted Police officers are being brought in, and more Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area officers are coming in 24 to 48 hours to help.
Ontario Provincial Police officers are helping to triage resources in the city and across the province.
“Let me be clear, there is no reluctance to be involved in enforcement efforts. We’ve been enforcing the law from day one and we continue to so as more resources become available,.” says Chief Sloly.
Oliver O’Connell10 February 2022 22:30