American impatience grows with Canadian government’s inaction on border blockades

Federal government under increasing pressure from Biden administration to resolve protests over vaccine mandate

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WINDSOR — Canada should use federal powers to mitigate growing economic disruption caused by the blockage of a vital trade route between the United States and Canada by protesters opposed to coronavirus mandates, the president’s administration said Thursday. American Joe Biden.

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US Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg on Thursday urged their Canadian counterparts “to use federal powers to resolve this situation at our shared border,” a White House official said. .

“U.S. and Canadian border and customs officials are working urgently to ensure the continued flow of goods and services across our international border, taking advantage of alternate land routes, as well as air and sea options.

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer said on Friday she 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 in an interview.

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On Friday, Ontario Premier Doug Ford declared a state of emergency in response to ongoing lockdowns in Ottawa and Windsor, Ont.

Ford said it would issue orders making it “clear” that it is illegal and punishable to block and impede the movement of goods, people and services along critical infrastructure.

This includes protecting international border crossings and 400-series highways; fines for non-compliance will be up to $100,000 and up to one year in jail, the premier of Ontario has said.

Seeking to show support for Canadian protesters, some U.S. truckers said they would send two convoys this weekend to a fourth border crossing that connects Buffalo, NY, and Fort Erie, Ont.

In a tweet on Thursday, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he had spoken to Drew Dilkens, the mayor of Windsor, Ont., which borders Detroit, and said the federal government stood ready to help Windsor and the province control the situation.

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“This is causing real harm to workers and economies on both sides of the border,” he said.

Police near the Ambassador Bridge have started receiving additional manpower, Dilkens told CNN earlier.

“(If) the protesters don’t leave, there will have to be a way forward. If that means physically removing them, it means physically removing them, and we are ready to do that,” he said.

Dilkens later said Windsor was seeking a court injunction to have the protesters evicted, adding that he was working to resolve the issue peacefully.

“(Although it may be gratifying for someone to see the forced withdrawal of protesters, such an action may escalate the situation and certainly lead to more people coming here and participating in the demonstration, and we do not want to risk further conflict,” he said.

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The closure of the Ambassador Bridge, North America’s busiest international land border crossing and a vital supply route for Detroit automakers, halted some auto production and left authorities scrambling to limit trade. economic damage.

Canadian truckers began their protests as a “freedom convoy” occupying Ottawa to demonstrate their opposition to a vaccination or quarantine mandate for cross-border drivers mirrored by the US government.

They began blocking the Ambassador Bridge on Monday and have since closed two small border crossings in the provinces of Alberta and Manitoba.

With traffic sometimes closed in both directions, General Motors Co and Stellantis, Chrysler’s parent company, said they had to cancel or reduce shifts due to parts shortages, building on production cuts prior announcements by Ford Motor Co and Toyota Motor Corp.

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Toyota said it was suspending production until Saturday at its Ontario and Kentucky plants, affecting manufacturing of the Camry, RAV4 and other popular models.

Ford plans to airlift some auto parts to a Windsor plant that produces engines for popular models, a union official said.

An Ontario court on Thursday froze funds given to anti-vaccine protesters through the GiveSendGo app. The convoy group had raised more than $8 million by late Thursday afternoon, the Boston-based company said.

More than two-thirds of the $511 billion in goods traded annually between Canada and the United States are transported by road. The Detroit International Bridge Company, owner of the Ambassador Bridge, has urged Canada to end the protest by repealing the vaccine mandate or removing vehicles so trade can resume.

A third option was to “do nothing and hope it ends on its own: an option that will most likely prolong the blockade, further crippling our economy and putting more jobs at risk,” the company’s chairman said. , Matt Moroun, in a statement.

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