‘Freedom Convoy’: A vital US-Canadian border crossing reopens after trucker blockade of Ambassador Bridge is cleared

The standoff at the Ambassador Bridge, which links Windsor, Ontario, and Detroit, had paralyzed traffic between Canada and the United States. Its reopening allows “the free flow of commerce between the Canada and US economies once again,” the Detroit International Bridge Company said in a statement Sunday night.

Protesters with the “Freedom Convoy” in recent weeks also have gridlocked Ottawa’s downtown core and impeded border crossings at Alberta and Montana, Manitoba and North Dakota, and British Columbia and Washington state.

Their grievances stem from Canada’s new mandate requiring truckers to either be fully vaccinated when crossing the Canadian-US border or face a two-week quarantine. Others have joined nationwide to rally against mask mandates, lockdowns, restrictions on gatherings and other coronavirus preventative measures.

Police also seized five vehicles from protesters Sunday, Mizuno said, and seven vehicles were towed Saturday. Police expect to have a heightened presence in the area to maintain order, the chief said.

“Let me be crystal clear: It is illegal and punishable to block and impede the movement of goods, people and services along critical infrastructure,” Ontario Premier Doug Ford tweeted Sunday. “Fines for noncompliance will be severe, with a maximum penalty of $100,000 and up to a year imprisonment.”
Police started detaining protesters after a judge ordered them to leave the Ambassador Bridge by 7 pm Friday. Some protesters moved away on their own as police approached Saturday morning.

The thoroughfare’s reopening “follows a state of emergency declared in Ontario and an injunction granted by an Ontario judge which took effect Friday,” the bridge company said.

The protesters represent a vocal minority. About 4 in every 5 Canadians are fully vaccinated, Johns Hopkins University data shows. And nearly 90% of the country’s truckers are fully vaccinated and eligible to cross the border, according to the Canadian government.

The mayor of Windsor said Sunday the economic fallout from the blockade was ending. “Today, our national economic crisis at the Ambassador bridge came to an end,” Major Drew Dilkens said in a written statement.

Protesters will exit residential parts of Ottawa, mayor says

Some progress in the Ottawa protest was announced Sunday when Mayor Jim Watson said he reached an agreement with organizers to exit residential areas of downtown and restrict their demonstrations to streets directly in front of Canada’s national parliament.

Truckers and their supporters have been gathering in Ottawa since January 29, with demonstrations concentrated around government buildings but also spilling into residential areas.

They are protesting Covid restrictions and support is growing.  This is what could happen in the Canada protests next
The city’s downtown area has been gridlocked. Businesses have had to shut down and the noise of honking trucks permeated the air until a judge ordered the noise to stop last week.
Residents reported instances of rock throwing, property damage and harassment carried out by the protesters and police said they had opened dozens of investigations, including into alleged hate crimes.

Watson recognized the agreement was not a long-term solution but told city councilors in a statement provided to CNN “it represents a positive first step.”

“Freedom Convoy” organizer Tamara Lich wrote to the mayor that while some residents have supported and encouraged the protesters, others have been disturbed, according to a letter provided to CNN from the mayor’s office.

“We will be working hard over the next 24 hours to get buy in from the truckers,” Lich wrote in the letter addressed to Watson. “We hope to start repositioning our trucks on Monday.”

Trucks with Canadian flags drive by anti-vaccine mandate and anti-government protesters Saturday in Surrey, British Columbia, near the border with Washington state.

Other border crossings blocked

In addition to the Ambassador Bridge, protesters have used semitrailers — and sometimes farm equipment and other vehicles — to block the Coutts border access point between Alberta and Montana.

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About 50 vehicles have blocked access since Thursday to the Canadian-US border at Emerson, Manitoba, and Pembina, North Dakota, the Manitoba Royal Canadian Mounted Police said Saturday.

And in British Columbia, four people have been arrested near the Pacific Highway border crossing in Surrey, the national police said Sunday. On Saturday, “a few vehicles” broke through a police barricade there, they said.

“While no injuries were reported as a result of the incident, this had the potential for harm to pedestrians and first responders. This kind of behavior will not be tolerated and is being investigated,” Royal Canadian Mounted Police Cpl. Vanessa Munn said in a statement.


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