Freedom Convoy truckers protesting the Canadian government’s vaccine mandate continue to protest at its busiest border crossing with the U.S, despite arrests and a declaration by police that the bridge was reopened.
The blocked bridge links Windsor, Ontario, and Detroit, Michigan. It typically sees about 8,000 trucks cross it daily, which accounts for 25 percent of trade between Canada and the U.S.
During the protest, a growing list of provinces began to lift Covid-19 restrictions. The General Motors plant across the border, in Delta Township, Michigan, was forced to cancel shifts due to lack of supply for production.
In response, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau refused to budge on the mandate, saying he “doesn’t listen to people who illegally block borders.” Additionally, Trudeau called the truckers “swastika wavers.”
After days of blockage, multiple shifts at the GM plant in Michigan had to be canceled. The plant is 92 miles from the border.
“We are working closely with our logistics providers to mitigate any potential impacts to our production and operations,” said communications representative with General Motors, Erin Davis.
Call for end to mandates
Conservative leaders have called on Trudeau to set a date to end the restrictive mandates. Trudeau responded by saying decisions were based on science and called for conservatives to demand an end to the barricades and protests.
Opposition leader Candice Bergen accused Trudeau of dividing Canadians and politicizing the pandemic. “It seems like the Prime Minister wants to live in a permanent pandemic,” Bergen said.
Trudeau hit back, saying that he doesn’t “listen to people blockading our streets” and again called on opposition leaders to condemn the truckers’ actions.
“The support of the conservative party for barricading our streets and border crossings is harming businesses and driving up prices, uncertainty, and stability,” said Trudeau.
“The Ambassador Bridge is critical for trade, and this blockade poses significant risk to our supply chains. Illegally blocked trade routes means empty shelves and higher prices. They have a right to protest, but they don’t have a right to illegally block roads and harass residents.”
The White House responded to the blockaded Ambassador Bridge and said that it risks harming the auto industry in America.
“We are watching this very closely. The blockade poses a risk to supply chains for the auto industry,” said White House spokesperson Jen Psaki at a news briefing. Psaki also said that a meeting with Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer and a White House Homeland Security adviser had met on the issue.
“There are a number of steps we have proactively taken,” Psaki said.
Following Trudeau’s smear of the truckers as “swastika wavers” he attempted to shift the tone, saying that he understands “how frustrated everyone is” and “the time is coming when we will be able to relax.”
Conservative leaders criticized Trudeau’s remarks, accused him of stoking division during the protests, and continued to pepper Trudeau with questions about his handling of the pandemic.
“We are at a crisis point, not just outside the doors and across the country, but the country overall,” said Bergen. “And so much of it is because of things he’s said and done.”