Sarah Jackson,Michelle Mark – Feb. 13, 2022, 3:54 AM
- Canadian police moved in on Saturday to clear out Freedom Convoy protesters blocking the Ambassador Bridge.
- But their efforts appeared to stall as the day went on, and demonstrators continued blocking the bridge.
- The protesters, who oppose COVID-19 vaccine mandates, shut down traffic on the Canada-US bridge for a fifth day Saturday.
Police moved in on Saturday to clear out protesters that have been blocking a crucial bridge on the US-Canadian border for the past five days, but their efforts appeared to stall and the bridge remained blocked throughout the evening, according to Canadian media reports.
Authorities in Windsor, Ontario, began removing demonstrators from the Ambassador Bridge and ticketing and towing vehicles in the morning, but Global News reported that some 200 protesters remained blocking the bridge throughout the evening.
“The Windsor Police & its policing partners have commenced enforcement at and near the Ambassador Bridge,” Windsor Police wrote in a tweet Saturday morning. “We urge all demonstrators to act lawfully & peacefully. Commuters are still being asked to avoid the areas affected by the demonstrations at this time.”
The attempt to clear the bridge came after an Ontario Superior Court judge on Friday ordered protesters to leave after hearing arguments that they were blocking traffic, impeding trade, and hampering the production of vehicles.
Roughly $360 million of goods are transported via the bridge every day, roughly 25% of the value of all trade between the US and Canada, according to Reuters.
The blockade has caused a shortage of fruits and vegetables for some grocery stores in Canada, particularly those in rural areas, that rely on imports from the US.
Ford is reportedly considering sending car parts to its Windsor factory by plane rather than truck after the blockade cut off the supply of auto parts to the plant. General Motors and Stellantis previously told Insider production at their Canadian factories was also impacted by supply shortages from the blockade.
Demonstrations began when Canadian truckers drove to the country’s capital, Ottawa, late last month, to protest COVID-19 lockdown measures and vaccine mandates in the country. The so-called “Freedom Convoy” has since spread to other cities in Canada and attracted an array of supporters, beyond just truckers, who are opposed to the vaccine mandates.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau issued a statement on Saturday saying he had convened a meeting with cabinet ministers and other top government officials about “the ongoing illegal blockades and occupations taking place across the country.”
Trudeau said local and federal authorities are monitoring blockades not only in Ontario, but in the provinces of Alberta and Manitoba. He said authorities had “emphasized the very real economic harm facing Canada as each hour passes where these illegal blockades remain unresolved.”
The Canadian demonstrations have inspired similar protests in other countries, including France and New Zealand.
In the US, federal officials have warned that a similar convoy could target the Super Bowl, though law enforcement says there is no “legitimacy” to the threat.