The government shouldn't let this protest take our economy hostage: Canadian Chamber of Commerce CEO
The Ambassador Bridge that links Canada with the U.S. has reopened, clearing the largest trade artery between the two countries after a five-day protest shut it down.
“Normal border processing has resumed at the Ambassador Bridge,” the Canada Border Services Agency said on Twitter.
The reopening came after local police and officers from the Province of Ontario and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police slowly and methodically pushed protesters from the foot of the bridge up Huron Church Road starting Saturday. With the road cleared, police worked to remove barriers positioned to prevent the protest from growing and to get Canada’s border agency staff to the bridge.
“Today, our national economic crisis at the Ambassador Bridge came to an end,” Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens said earlier in a statement. “Border crossings will reopen when it is safe to do so and I defer to police and border agencies to make that determination.”
Canadian authorities were planning to reopen the bridge after completing necessary safety checks, White House Homeland Security Advisor Liz Sherwood-Randall said in a statement.
Restarting traffic across the bridge after the week-long crisis is essential to both the U.S. and Canadian economies. The protest halted the transport of US$13.5 million an hour in traded goods and forced automakers to reduce production or cancel shifts at plants in Ontario and Michigan.
A Superior Court Judge issued an injunction Friday afternoon, giving police stronger legal cover to make arrests and tow vehicles. The operation began Saturday morning in Windsor, as lines of officers in yellow vests advanced in rows, warning protesters they could face criminal charges if they continued to occupy roadways.
By evening Saturday, they had pushed the demonstration 500 yards from the original rally point at the foot of the bridge, before reopening the bridge late Sunday.
After sub-freezing temperatures sent some protesters away during the night, the police started clearing those who remained early Sunday morning. Some protesters lingered at businesses along the road. Windsor Police posted to its Twitter account a warning that business owners requested assistance in removing protesters and vehicles from their property.
A larger protest has been taking place for more than two weeks in Ottawa, where hundreds of semi trucks have blocked downtown streets, including the one in front of Canada’s parliament.
The Ambassador Bridge is vital to the auto sector, which relies on a supply chain that includes assembly plants and parts makers in Ontario and Quebec. Automakers including General Motors Co., Ford Motor Co., Stellantis NV and Toyota Motor Corp. have been forced to curb production this week for lack of parts. An association of auto parts manufacturers was among the parties that applied for the court injunction.
The demonstrations have had staying power in Canada in large part because police, wary of stoking violence, hesitated to make arrests and clear the blockades.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford on Friday called the situation “a pivotal moment for our nation” and said the eyes of the world were watching how Canada and its leaders deal with public unrest over vaccine mandates and COVID-19 restrictions. His government enacted new powers to end the blockades, including the threat of fines of as much as $100,000 (US$78,500) and jail time.
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