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U.S.-Canada bridge reopens after police clear area of demonstrators

A police officer reacts on the road leading to the Ambassador Bridge, which connects Detroit and Windsor, after police cleared demonstrators, during a protest against coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine mandates, in Windsor, Ontario, Canada February 13, 2022. REUTERS/Carlos Osorio

After Canadian police evacuated demonstrators fighting to lift COVID-19 restrictions, North America’s busiest trade link reopened for traffic late Sunday evening, ending a six-day blockage, according to the Canada Border Services Agency.

The news: Following a court order on Friday, Canadian police made multiple arrests on Sunday and cleared demonstrators and vehicles occupying the Ambassador Bridge in Windsor, Ontario.

  • The blockade had suffocated Detroit’s automakers’ supply chains, causing Ford Motor Co, the country’s second-largest automaker, General Motors Co, and Toyota Motor Corp to reduce production.
  • The bridge transports over $360 million in two-way freight every day, accounting for about a quarter of all goods traffic between the United States and Canada.
  • Twenty to thirty arrests were made, according to a Windsor Police spokesman. According to a previous announcement, police took vehicles from the demonstration area.
  • As the number of demonstrators declined to around 45 on Sunday from around 100 on Saturday, police increased their presence with more than 50 vehicles, including cruisers, buses, and an armoured car. “There will be zero tolerance for illegal activities,” Windsor Police tweeted.
Police officers move along a road leading to the Ambassador Bridge, which connects Detroit and Windsor, after clearing demonstrators, during a protest against coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine mandates, in Windsor, Ontario, Canada February 13, 2022. REUTERS/Carlos Osorio
Police officers stand next to a vehicle, as they move along a road leading to the Ambassador Bridge, which connects Detroit and Windsor, after clearing demonstrators, during a protest against coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine mandates, in Windsor, Ontario, Canada February 13, 2022. REUTERS/Carlos Osorio
People take part in a counter-protest blocking a small convoy of truckers who demonstrate against coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine mandates, in the outskirts of Ottawa, in Ontario, Canada, February 13, 2022. REUTERS/Chris Helgren

What’s going on: On Sunday, counter-protesters in Ottawa began blocking vehicles attempting to join the marches, as citizens became impatient with the three-week-old demonstrations.

  • A group of roughly 200 protestors in the western Canadian province of British Columbia momentarily halted the Pacific highway border crossing in Surrey for the second day on Sunday afternoon. On the US side of the border, a small group of demonstrators formed, blocking arriving vehicles.
  • On Sunday, the “Freedom Convoy” protests in Ottawa, which began with Canadian truckers rejecting a vaccinate-or-quarantine mandate for cross-border drivers, entered their 17th day. However, it has since evolved into a rallying point against greater COVID-19 restrictions, the carbon price, and other problems, with individuals showing up in automobiles, pickup trucks, and agricultural vehicles.
  • “We’re fed up, we’re tired. We want Ottawa to be boring again,” said an Ottawa resident at a counter protest in front of the city’s police headquarters. 
  • Emergency Preparedness Minister Bill Blair told CBC News on Sunday that the Canadian government had debated whether to use special emergency powers to deal with the protests in the capital. Blair called Ottawa’s lack of police enforcement “inexplicable.”
  • The rarely utilised Emergencies Act would allow the federal government to bypass the provinces and adopt specific temporary measures to safeguard national security in any part of the country during national emergencies. In peacetime, it was only used once, by Trudeau’s father, former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, in 1970.
  • Protests have extended to three border locations, including Alberta and Manitoba, suffocating bilateral trade. According to Canadian authorities, the rallies were partially funded by supporters in the United States, and Ontario restricted monies received through one U.S. platform, GiveSendGo, on Thursday.
  • According to IHS Markit data, the daily flow of automobiles and parts in 2021 is $141.1 million per day, thus the anticipated loss to the auto industry alone may be as high as $850 million.
  • “Today, our national economic crisis at the Ambassador Bridge came to an end,” Windsor City Mayor Drew Dilkens said in a tweet.
  • A caravan of 150 cars protesting COVID-19 limits departed Paris on Sunday morning and went to Brussels.
Canadian police cleared on Sunday protesters and vehicles that had blocked a vital trade route on the border with the United States, making some arrests, but the bridge was not yet open to traffic by Sunday afternoon
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