Vertiv Introduces New Single-Phase Uninterruptible Power Supply for Distributed Information Technology (IT) Networks and Edge Computing Applications in Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA)Read more Students from JA Zimbabwe Win 2023 De La Vega Global Entrepreneurship AwardRead more Top International Prospects to Travel to Salt Lake City for Seventh Annual Basketball Without Borders Global CampRead more Rise of the Robots as Saudi Arabia Underscores Global Data and Artificial Intelligence (AI) Aspirations with DeepFest Debut at LEAP23Read more Somalia: ‘I sold the last three goats, they were likely to die’Read more Merck Foundation and African First Ladies marking World Cancer Day 2023 through 110 scholarships of Oncology Fellowships in 25 countriesRead more Supporting women leaders and aspirants to unleash their potentialRead more Fake medicines kill almost 500,000 sub-Saharan Africans a year: United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) reportRead more Climate crisis and migration: Greta Thunberg supports International Organization for Migration (IOM) over ‘life and death’ issueRead more United Nations (UN) Convenes Lake Chad Countries, Amid Growing Regional CrisisRead more

Trudeau slams Canada trucker protests, police threaten arrests

show caption
Empty jerry cans line the street in front of parked trucks as demonstrators protest the Covid-19 vaccine mandates implemented by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Ottawa, Canada./AFP
Print Friendly and PDF

Feb 10, 2022 - 06:08 AM

OTTAWA, CANADA — Canadian police threatened Wednesday to arrest trucker-led protesters who have shut down central Ottawa and disrupted cross-border trade in anger at Covid health rules, as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau lambasted the movement as “unacceptable.”

With more people joining the blockade of the Ambassador Bridge between Windsor and the US city of Detroit in solidarity with the two-week long truckers protest in the Canadian capital, Trudeau warned the action threatens the country’s economic recovery.

“Blockades, illegal demonstrations are unacceptable, and are negatively impacting businesses and manufacturers,” Trudeau said in the House of Commons. “We must do everything to bring them to an end.”

To the protesters, he said, “You can’t end a pandemic with blockades… You need to end it with science. You need to end it with public health measures.”

Earlier, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said US officials were “in very close contact” with Canadian border agencies about the bridge blockade.

Psaki also expressed concerns about the impacts of the protests on the US economy, saying the action “poses a risk to supply chains, to the auto industry.”

The Ambassador suspension bridge is a key trade corridor, with more than 40,000 commuters, tourists and trucks carrying US$323 million worth of goods across the span each day.

Several Canadian and American chambers of commerce and industry associations, in a joint statement, demanded the bridge be cleared, saying, “as our economies emerge from the impacts of the pandemic we cannot allow any group to undermine the cross-border trade.”

Another trade link between Coutts, Alberta and Sweet Grass, Montana has also been blocked by protesters for several days.

‘Freedom Convoy’ 

By Wednesday evening, the atmosphere on the streets of downtown Ottawa was one of protest and celebration.

“We’re not going anywhere,” said trucker John Deelstra, smiling from behind the wheel of his big rig, which has been at the demonstration since day one.

Planted not far away, Ontario trucker Lloyd Brubacher offered up the same steely resolve: “I’m not going anywhere,” he told AFP, adding that he planned “to fight to the bitter end.”

Some 400 vehicles are still camped on Parliament Hill below Trudeau’s offices, against a backdrop of barbecues, campfires and music.

“This is a dramatic situation that is impacting the wellbeing of Canada’s relationship with the United States and impacts immensely how business is able to conduct its operations,” University of Ottawa professor Gilles LeVasseur told AFP.

The so-called “Freedom Convoy” began last month in western Canada — launched in anger at requirements that truckers either be vaccinated, or test and isolate, when crossing the US-Canada border.

Having snowballed into an occupation of Canada’s capital, the protest has sparked solidarity rallies across the nation and abroad.

On Wednesday, Ottawa police warned protesters they could face criminal charges and their trucks could be seized if they continue their “unlawful” clogging of downtown streets.

Canadian Vehicle Manufacturers’ Association president Brian Kingston said the Ambassador Bridge blockade was “threatening fragile supply chains already under pressure due to pandemic-related shortages and backlogs.”

Officials pointed to 5,000 factory workers in Windsor, Ontario being sent home early Tuesday because of the blockade, and several auto assembly plants preparing to close, as Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens expressed fears about lasting impacts on Canadian businesses.

‘Illegal economic blockade’ 

Michelle Krebs, a senior analyst with Autotrader in Detroit, explained that North American assembly plants rely on timely parts deliveries across the bridge.

The auto sector “is a significant portion of the economy and an important portion of consumer spending” that has been hard hit over the past year, she said.

Canada’s Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino warned of “serious dangers for the economy” and called on protesters to “go home!”

“This is an illegal economic blockade… against all Canadians,” added Transport Minister Omar Alghabra.

Several provinces including Alberta, Quebec and Saskatchewan this week announced a gradual lifting or loosening of Covid-19 restrictions.

A Canadian court on Monday ordered the truckers to stop incessant honking that upset residents and made sleep difficult.

But the noise is spreading: Similar movements have hatched everywhere from New York to New Zealand.

In France, thousands of protesters inspired by the Canadian truckers plan to converge on Paris Friday evening, with some aiming to move onwards to Brussels Monday.

LMBCNEWS.COM uses both Facebook and Disqus comment systems to make it easier for you to contribute. We encourage all readers to share their views on our articles and blog posts. All comments should be relevant to the topic. By posting, you agree to our Privacy Policy. We are committed to maintaining a lively but civil forum for discussion, so we ask you to avoid personal attacks, name-calling, foul language or other inappropriate behavior. Please keep your comments relevant and respectful. By leaving the ‘Post to Facebook’ box selected – when using Facebook comment system – your comment will be published to your Facebook profile in addition to the space below. If you encounter a comment that is abusive, click the “X” in the upper right corner of the Facebook comment box to report spam or abuse. You can also email us.