Freedom Convoy Supporters Block Traffic at Canada’s Busiest Border Crossing

A woman crosses the street in front of vehicles parked as part of the trucker protest, Tuesday, Feb. 8, 2022 in Ottawa. Canadian lawmakers expressed increasing worry about protests over vaccine mandates other other COVID restrictions after the busiest border crossing between the U.S. and Canada became partially blocked. (Adrian …
Adrian Wyld /The Canadian Press via AP

Supporters of Canada’s anti-mandate, trucker-led Freedom Convoy movement shut down traffic on the Ambassador Bridge on Monday.

Located between Windsor, Ontario, and Detroit, Michigan, the bridge is part of the busiest border crossing between Canada and the United States.

Protesters blocked the Ambassador Bridge exit onto Huron Church Road in Windsor on Monday, obliging the police to recommend an alternate route for motorists. The resulting traffic jam spread through Windsor and eventually reached across the border into the United States.

The Ambassador Bridge was closed entirely for part of Monday night and Tuesday morning. Police advised motorists, particularly those driving commercial vehicles, to reroute to an entirely different bridge, the Bluewater in Sarnia, if they needed to cross the U.S. border. 

A tunnel from Windsor to Detroit was also recommended as an alternative by the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA).

Traffic was still reportedly slow and partially blocked on Tuesday, prompting a statement from the Detroit International Bridge Company, owners of the Ambassador Bridge.

“International commerce needs to resume,” said company chairman Matt Moroun. 

“The Ambassador Bridge and the Moroun family sympathize with truck drivers and those caught up in this blockade. We recognize truck drivers are essential workers that work hard to deliver necessities to all of us and that the Canadian government has done a tremendous job with vaccine rates,” Moroun said.

“The Ambassador Bridge has a solemn obligation to facilitate safe and efficient international trade and travel. We encourage the appropriate officials to take prompt action to alleviate the situation as quickly as possible in a manner that reflects mutual respect,” he concluded.

Windsor-Essex Regional Chamber of Commerce CEO Rakesh Naidu was less sympathetic to the protesters.

“Many businesses have been through so much in the last two years. This couldn’t come at a worse time. To constrict the border like this will impact everyone not just in Windsor, but Ontario and Canada. You have thousands of businesses that rely on the border and trade coming through. You have inventory based on just-in-time delivery,” Naidu told the Windsor Star on Tuesday.

“Any disruption of supply can lead to shifts being canceled and if it continues, closing operations,” Naidu cautioned. “All of that doesn’t just impact the businesses in all the different sectors, but consumers like you and me. This is not just manufacturing, but goods we all consume as well, like fresh produce, or chemicals and fuel that we need.”

Writing at the Toronto Sun on Tuesday, columnist Brian Lilley saw the Ambassador Bridge protest as a possible turning point in the Freedom Convoy saga, because Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has no good answer to it.

“Will Trudeau dismiss these people as racists like he does everyone else who disagrees with him? That’s what Trudeau has done in the past with several people or groups opposed to him and it seems to be the only response he has to the protests in Ottawa,” Lilley wrote.

“This is all about politics and Trudeau’s desire to pump up his base of supporters against the protesters, attach the protest movement to Conservatives, and reap the rewards with increased voter support if or when violent confrontation with the police takes place,” he charged, contrasting Trudeau’s confrontational and insulting attitude toward Canadian truckers with his support for Indian farm protesters last year.

“That single bridge connecting Windsor to Detroit carries 27% of the total two-way trade between Canada and the United States. Yelling racist won’t fix this problem. Perhaps it’s time for Trudeau to offer the same dialogue to Canadian protesters as he offered to Indian protesters,” Lilley concluded.

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