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This report comes from Reuters.
The Canadian province of Ontario declared a state of emergency on Friday and Prime Minister Doug Ford threatened fines and jail time as authorities came under increasing pressure from the United States to end to protests against the vaccine mandate that have drastically reduced trade between the two nations.
The “freedom convoy” of Canadian truckers opposed to a vaccination or quarantine mandate for cross-border drivers, mirrored by the US government, began with the occupation of the Canadian capital, Ottawa. Truckers then blocked the Ambassador Bridge earlier this week and closed two other smaller border crossings.
The closure of the bridge, the busiest international land border crossing in North America and a key supply route for from Detroit automakers, halted some auto production and left authorities scrambling to limit economic damage.
“I will convene the cabinet to use legal authorities to urgently issue orders that will make clear that it is illegal and punishable to block and impede the movement of goods, people and services along critical infrastructure,” Ford said during a Friday press briefing.
Ford also promised further legal action against protesters, including fines and potential jail time for failing to comply with government orders.
Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer On Friday, she said she had pushed the Canadian government to bring the protest under control and that the blockade of the bridge was hurting her state. “The Canadian government must do whatever it takes to resolve this issue safely and quickly,” Whitmer told CNN.
Canadian auto parts maker Magna International said on Friday the closure of the Ambassador Bridge had begun to have an initial impact on some areas of the company’s business as it became the latest company to be swept away by the protests. truckers. Shares of the company fell 4.4%.
The Biden administration on Thursday urged Canada to use federal powers to mitigate disruptions.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he was working with city leaders to end the blockade. Minister of Public Security Marco Mendicino said federal police forces would be deployed to Windsornear the bridge, and in Ottawa.
Mendicino is expected to speak with the US Secretary of Homeland Security Alexander Mayorkas Friday, his office confirmed.
Police in Windsor, Ont., which borders Detroit, said they have received additional resources from outside jurisdictions to “support a peaceful resolution of the current protest on and near the Ambassador Bridge.”
In Ottawa, the epicenter of the protests, police were waiting Thursday for a request for provincial and federal reinforcements to be completed. They have made 25 arrests so far. Municipal Police Chief Pierre Sloly expects reinforcements to arrive in the next 48 hours ahead of a potential increase in protesters in the city over the weekend.
“This is a completely sophisticated level of demonstrators. They have the ability to lead a strong organization here provincially and nationally, and we’re seeing that play out in real time,” Sloly told reporters.
Canada sends 75% of its exports to the United States, and the bridge typically handles 8,000 trucks a day, accounting for a quarter of all cross-border trade, or about C$500 million ($392.56 million) per day.
Approximately C$100 million worth of auto parts crosses the border every day, and many shipments are scheduled to arrive when manufacturers need them.
General Motors Co, Ford Motor Co, the parent company of Chrysler Stellantis and Toyota Motor Corp were affected by the lockdowns.
Although officials at the federal, provincial and municipal levels held regular meetings, they had limited impact on the ground.
Mayor of Windsor Drew Dilkens sought an injunction from the Ontario Superior Court to remove the protesters from the bridge, adding that he was working to resolve the issue peacefully and ensure no one was harmed.
As many pandemic-weary Western countries approach the two-year mark on coronavirus restrictions, copycat protests have spread to Australia, New Zealand and Francealthough the wave of infections caused by the Omicron variant has begun to subside in some places.