News

Border protest: The Ambassador Bridge remains blocked as protest continues


Article content

The “Freedom Convoy” that converged in Ottawa on Jan. 28 has spread to border crossings at Windsor and Coutts. The protests began in response to the federal government’s move to require that Canadian truck drivers crossing the U.S. border be fully vaccinated, but has evolved into a protest of all public health measures aimed at fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. Organizers say they will not end their protest until all measures are dropped.

Advertisement

Article content

What you need to know:

  • The City of Windsor has formally requested additional resources from the federal government
  • Protests in Ottawa and the border crossings at Windsor and Coutts continue
  • The Ambassador Bridge connecting Windsor and Detroit remains closed
  • Traffic is flowing at Coutts but some lanes remain blocked
  • Ottawa police warn that they will be enforcing judge’s injunction against honking horns downtown
  • Alberta’s vaccine passport is gone but protesters promised to hunker down for the long term on the highway leading to the province’s main U.S. border crossing

As protests continued into Wednesday morning at the Ambassador Bridge traffic at the busiest border crossing in North America is at a standstill. Business and political leaders are denouncing the ongoing truck blockade as unfairly hurtful to Canadian businesses and citizens.

9:20

Significant and growing presence of both police and protestors at the intersection of Huron Church Road and Tecumseh Road, with protestors now in the intersection at Huron Church (south) where traffic across all three lanes is stopped. Traffic continues on Tecumseh in both directions.

Advertisement

Article content

The Ambassador Bridge, in Detroit, February 9, 2022.
The Ambassador Bridge, in Detroit, February 9, 2022. Photo by David Guralnick /The Detroit News

6:20

Crowds at Windsor’s Ambassador Bridge border blockade continued to grow into nightfall Wednesday.

The blockade of bridge traffic from Huron Church Road continued, though police appeared to be directing commercial traffic through an alternate entrance on Wyandotte Street.

The Canadian Border Services Agency said current wait times at the border crossing were around 45 minutes.

Crowds — including many families with young children — were listening to music over speakers and waving flags, and the number of vehicles parked on Huron Church Road appears to have grown since this afternoon. 

Anti-mandate protests that have shut down incoming traffic from the Ambassador Bridge and limited outgoing traffic, continue to hold a portion of Huron Church, on Wednesday, February 9, 2022.
Anti-mandate protests that have shut down incoming traffic from the Ambassador Bridge and limited outgoing traffic, continue to hold a portion of Huron Church, on Wednesday, February 9, 2022. Photo by Dax Melmer /Windsor Star

3:15

Protestors continued to block the intersection at Huron Church Road and College Avenue, near the base of the Ambassador Bridge, late Wednesday afternoon. Some people were barbecuing, while another group of protestors brought living room furniture.

Advertisement

Article content

“I used to work for a major airline, I probably have had more vaccinations than half of Windsor, but I am against mandating vaccines,” said Lori Inverarity, a Windsor woman present at Wednesday’s protest. “ This has got to be freedom of choice for people and young people should not be losing their jobs.

“Yes, know people have died. But we have a very unhealthy society, I don’t see Trudeau going after the junk food industry or mandating Vitamin D,” Inverarity said. “But he’s out there telling everyone they have to get the jab or lose their job. Firefighters, healthcare workers, police force, military: The backbone of this society.”

Another person present at Wednesday’s protest said he, and most of his family, are vaccinated – but he had been participating in protests since Saturday because he objects to lockdowns and carbon tax.

Advertisement

Article content

“I think the vaccination is smart. I have grandkids, I don’t want to be the person that transmits any disease to them for that matter,” said Jim Boak. “I respect the people that don’t want to take (the vaccine).”

Boak said he feels lockdowns “painted with the same brush” communities in drastically different circumstances, and feels that shutdowns weren’t necessary, and did more harm than good, for businesses doing their part with PPE and social distancing. He said he is also opposed to carbon taxing – which, while not a central message in ongoing protests, was mentioned by several people at Windsor’s Ambassador Bridge protest Wednesday.

— Kate Saylors

Anti-mandate protests that have shut down incoming traffic from the Ambassador Bridge and limited outgoing traffic, continue to hold a portion of Huron Church, on Wednesday, February 9, 2022.
Anti-mandate protests that have shut down incoming traffic from the Ambassador Bridge and limited outgoing traffic, continue to hold a portion of Huron Church, on Wednesday, February 9, 2022. Photo by Dax Melmer /Windsor Star

1:50 p.m.

Both of Ford’s Windsor’s engine plants are scheduled to be operational Thursday.

The company is flying in parts for the Essex Engine plant while Ford has moved up the shipping of parts by truck for the Annex plant to ensure supplies arrive in time for Thursday.

The only concern is they may run out of racks to place the engines on at Essex if they can’t get a truck there in time,” Unifor Local 200 President John D’Agnolo said. “If that happens, then they’ll just end the shift early.”

— Dave Waddell

A CBSA employee is shown near the inspection booths in Windsor at the Ambassador Bridge on Wednesday, Feb. 9, 2022.
A CBSA employee is shown near the inspection booths in Windsor at the Ambassador Bridge on Wednesday, Feb. 9, 2022. Photo by Dan Janisse /Windsor Star

Advertisement

Article content

1:15 p.m.

Windsor friends Darlene Thompson and Joanne Callaway came to Wednesday’s continued protests at Ambassador Bridge because they are in opposition to vaccines and to the pandemic response by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. 

“They need to be taken down, everyone in that whole stupid Liberal cabinet, Trudeau, needs to go,” Callaway said. 

The pair also said they are skeptical of the vaccine, echoing a sentiment that protest organizers spoke about during some short speeches Wednesday afternoon. 

“They’re telling us: ‘Get this shot and it’ll go back to normal. Get another shot, it’ll go back to normal.’ And then they want you to get a booster now,” Thompson said. “They just keep kicking the can down the road. It’s never going to get back to what their normal is and it’s never going to get back to how we want it. We want to get back to a Canada that is glorious and free.”

Advertisement

Article content

Organizers took to the microphone to blast vaccines and share conspiracy theories about the purpose and efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines. 

— Kate Saylors

Anti-mandate protestors are shown near the Ambassador Bridge in Windsor on Wednesday, Feb. 9, 2022.
Anti-mandate protestors are shown near the Ambassador Bridge in Windsor on Wednesday, Feb. 9, 2022. Photo by Dan Janisse /Windsor Star

12:32 p.m.

The Ambassador Bridge protests must end peacefully but that they must end, Mayor Drew Dilkens said Wednesday at a press conference with Windsor Police Chief Pam Mizuno.

“As you are aware, over the past 48 hours, the Ambassador Bridge has been impacted by protestors in a manner similar to what has transpired on Parliament Hill,” Dilkens said. “The difference here is the significant impact on the busiest international border crossing in North America, and locally, our own economy in Windsor.”

Dilkens laid out several issues caused by the bridge blockade.

Advertisement

Article content

“The local transportation and warehousing sector is made up of 2,600 businesses employing over 10,000 people in Windsor-Essex – 10,000 members of our own community,” he said. “It is estimated that more than $450 million in goods cross the Windsor–Detroit border every day, representing one-third of all surface trade between Canada and the USA. More than 6,500 people residing in the Windsor-Essex area work outside of Canada, nearly all of whom commute across the Windsor-Detroit border. This includes health care workers that have spent the past two years saving lives on the frontlines of this pandemic, on both sides of the Detroit River.”

Dilkens noted that Windsor-Essex boasts $4.5 billion of manufactured goods yearly.

Advertisement

Article content

“Every hour this protest continues, our community hurts,” he said. “Thousands of workers feed their families because of the commerce made possible by the Ambassador Bridge. Hundreds of local auto parts companies stay in business because of the movement of goods across the Ambassador Bridge.

“I am very concerned about the lasting and permanent impact it will have on the region’s economic competitiveness.”

He said that people have called for protesters to be forcibly removed but that he and Chief Mizuno want to do it peacefully — and that all levels of government must help.

“I want you to know that I will do all I can to safeguard the safety, security and livelihood of Windsor residents,” he said. “We need continued partnership with federal and provincial government and no jurisdictional finger-pointing.”

Advertisement

Article content

— Dave Battagello

Windsor police chief, Pam Mizuno, and Mayor Drew Dilkens, provide an update on the on-going anti-mandate protests at the Ambassador Bridge on Wednesday, Feb. 9, 2022.
Windsor police chief, Pam Mizuno, and Mayor Drew Dilkens, provide an update on the on-going anti-mandate protests at the Ambassador Bridge on Wednesday, Feb. 9, 2022. Photo by Dax Melmer /Windsor Star

12:21 p.m.

Ford’s Essex and Annex engine plants are both down due to parts shortages causes by the bridge protest.

The Stellantis Windsor assembly plant is running this morning after having both shifts shortened due to parts shortages.

Ford is flying in parts for the Essex Engine plant and will make a decision later today on whether they can schedule production for the Annex.

Stellantis is also looking at alternative solutions to parts supply due to the ongoing issues at the bridge.

— Dave Waddell

11:45 a.m.

More vehicles and protestors have amassed at the intersection of Huron Church Road and College Avenue.

There is a substantial Windsor Police Service presence in the area, though cars have been permitted to enter the intersection.

Advertisement

Article content

Fire trucks going back to the fire station on College Avenue made their way slowly through the pedestrians in the intersection.

The backlog of stopped transport trucks at the Huron Church and Tecumseh intersection has been cleared. Some drivers had been stopped for more than a day Tuesday, with police controlling traffic in the area.

There is no traffic moving along Huron Church in either direction and the CBSA website lists the bridge as closed as of 11 a.m.

Some U.S.-bound trucks continue using the limited access from Wyandotte Street.

— Kate Saylors

Children play hockey at Huron Church and College near the Ambassador Bridge in Windsor on Wednesday, Feb. 9, 2022.
Children play hockey at Huron Church and College near the Ambassador Bridge in Windsor on Wednesday, Feb. 9, 2022. Photo by Dan Janisse /Windsor Star

10:30 a.m.

The Freedom Convoy 2022 protest on Huron Church Road that has snarled cross-border traffic over the Ambassador Bridge since Monday afternoon resulted in the disruption of two shifts at Stellantis’s Windsor Assembly Plant Tuesday.

Advertisement

Article content

The plant was back up and running normally Wednesday morning.

“Stellantis confirms that the Windsor Assembly Plant had to cut short its first and second shifts on Tuesday due to parts shortages,” said Stellantis Canada head of communications Lou Ann Gosselin.

“The plant resumed production this morning. We continue to work closely with our carriers to get parts into the plant to mitigate further disruptions.”

A vehicle parked among the protestors near the Ambassador Bridge in Windsor is shown on Wednesday, Feb. 9, 2022.
A vehicle parked among the protestors near the Ambassador Bridge in Windsor is shown on Wednesday, Feb. 9, 2022. Photo by Dan Janisse /Windsor Star

10:01 a.m.

Business associations on both sides of the border are calling government to step in and end the “illegal” border blockades.

“The Ambassador Bridge is the busiest trade crossing in North America and a vital enabler of our two economies. Given the importance of ensuring that the supply of food, medical products and industrial goods can continue, the disruption at the Ambassador Bridge is an attack on the well-being of our citizens and the businesses that employ them,” said the statement from business groups including the Canadian Food Exporters Association, Canadian American Border Trade Alliance and Global Automakers of Canada.

“As our economies emerge from the impacts of the pandemic, we cannot allow any group to undermine the cross-border trade that supports families on both sides of the border.”

The stakes are high.Each day, $300 million in car and truck parts, agricultural products, steel and other raw materials flows across the Ambassador Bridge, Flavio Volpe, president of the Automotive Parts Manufacturers’ Association in Toronto, told The Washington Post.The blockades could cause temporary plant closures and layoffs if companies can’t transport their goods or get the parts they need.

Comments

Postmedia is committed to maintaining a lively but civil forum for discussion and encourage all readers to share their views on our articles. Comments may take up to an hour for moderation before appearing on the site. We ask you to keep your comments relevant and respectful. We have enabled email notifications—you will now receive an email if you receive a reply to your comment, there is an update to a comment thread you follow or if a user you follow comments. Visit our Community Guidelines for more information and details on how to adjust your email settings.





Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.