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Canada 'Freedom Convoy' Protests Block Bridges and Trade With US

Canada 'Freedom Convoy' Protests Block Bridges and Trade With US
Demonstrators gather for a protest against Covid-19 vaccine mandates and restrictions in downtown Toronto, Ontario, Canada, February 5, 2022. (Geoff Robins / AFP via Getty)

By    |   Wednesday, 09 February 2022 12:10 PM EST

A second U.S.-Canada land crossing was disrupted by truckers with the Freedom Convoy, an ongoing protest in Canada against COVID-19 vaccine requirements for truckers to re-enter the country by land, further paralyzing crucial trade routes connecting the two countries, The Washington Post reports.

Both north- and southbound lanes at the Coutts border crossing, which links Alberta, Canada, with Montana, were shut down by protesters, the provincial Royal Canadian Mounted Police said Tuesday.

The same day, the Ambassador Bridge, the busiest international crossing in North America, linking Windsor, Ontario, to Detroit, was temporarily closed for passengers and commercial traffic, although local police said "limited traffic" was being allowed into the United States late Tuesday.

The protests, which began in late January, have snowballed into a broader movement against Canada’s pandemic-related measures and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

The obstruction of crucial border crossings has sparked major pushback from Canadian police and officials on both sides of the political spectrum, the paper observed.

For the third day in a row, little traffic is getting through to the Ambassador Bridge because of ongoing protests against pandemic restrictions, Canada's CBC reported.

On Wednesday morning, a few dozen vehicles lined Huron Church Road, which is the main artery feeding traffic to the international crossing. 

Windsor police have maintained one side-street entrance, allowing the trickle of some traffic onto the bridge from Wyandotte Street. Traffic is completely blocked for those exiting the bridge and entering Canada from Michigan, CBC reported.

While the public would like to see police "do more," Jason Bellaire, deputy chief of operations for the Windsor police, says officers are focused on keeping the safety of everyone involved.

"The dialog between the officers and the protesters on the scene has been for the most part cordial," Bellaire told CBC News Wednesday. 

"The difficulty is in a democratic society people have the right to protest and we respect that public protest."

Police are asking organizers and protesters to "maintain an open communication" with officers, who are working to negotiate with those demonstrating. 

"Aggressive police action can lead to violence on both sides," he said. "We need to be careful not to escalate it and it's a diplomacy based strategy."

There are massive delays at the Blue Water Bridge, as truck traffic is diverted there. The wait time for outbound U.S. commercial traffic is 4 hours, 15 minutes, as of 8 a.m. Wednesday. 

Last in line was Canadian truck driver Darek Babich, hauling auto parts to the U.S.

"I'm making money when my wheels are rolling, not when I'm standing. Nobody pays me, right?" he said to CBC News, adding he just wants to do his job. 

Evelyn Pereira, a U.S. trucker who was also caught in line heading back to the U.S., told CBC News she does not support the protest and that it's hindering the delivery of essential goods and services. 

Experts say blockades could spark temporary plant closures and layoffs if companies can’t transport their products, even if interruptions last one or two days, according to The Washington Post. 

Each day, goods worth $300 million — including car and truck parts, agricultural products, steel and other raw materials — flow across the Ambassador Bridge, Flavio Volpe, president of the Automotive Parts Manufacturers’ Association in Toronto, told The Washington Post. The bridge also connects families, friends and essential workers, among them Canadian nurses who work in Detroit-area hospitals.

Auto parts and other goods were still flowing across the border Tuesday evening, despite the bridge delays. But trucks had to travel almost 70 miles north to the Blue Water Bridge connecting Sarnia, Ontario, to Port Huron, Michigan. Authorities at that bridge reported a nearly three-hour delay for trucks to cross. In total, the trip will take more than five hours longer than normal, CBS News reported.

Canadian Transport Minister Omar Alghabra said such blockades will have serious implications for the economy and supply chains. "I've already heard from automakers and food grocers. This is really a serious cause for concern," he said in Ottawa, reported CBS News.

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A second U.S.-Canada land crossing was disrupted by truckers with the Freedom Convoy, an ongoing protest in Canada against COVID-19 vaccine requirements for truckers to re-enter the country by land, further paralyzing crucial trade routes connecting the two countries, The...
canada, protests, truckers, covid, trade, block
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2022-10-09
Wednesday, 09 February 2022 12:10 PM
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