Just as they had promised, Canadian truckers protesting vaccine mandates are now blocking the largest international bridge between their country and the United States in their continued effort to force Canadian Premier Justin Trudeau to back down.
The bridge, between Windsor, Ontario and Detroit, Michigan comprises the main commercial link between the countries, having as many as 8,000 commercial trucks cross it every single day.
Meanwhile, Trudeau called for an end to the protest, which is in its eleventh day.
Traffic is now gridlocked as the truckers have blocked all transit over the span, which goes over the Detroit River. Motorists are being urged to use the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel and truckers are asked to use the Blue Water Bridge in Sarnia and Port Huron.
Canadian truckers blocking bridge handling 27% of all trade with US
The busiest border crossing in North America, which normally is responsible for the free passage of 27% of all trade between the two enormous countries, was shut down on Monday evening as Canadian truckers upset with vaccine mandates brought their protest beyond the capital city of Ottawa.
“Someone is going to get killed or seriously injured because of the irresponsible behavior of some of these people,” said Ottawa mayor Jim Watson on Sunday. The New York Times reports that both city officials and the chief of police stated that they were under “siege.”
Hundreds of vehicles from what participants and supporters call the “freedom convoy” continue to block the major artery while organizers of the protest are calling for a meeting between them and all federal political leaders – except, notably, Prime Minister Trudeau – in order to arrive at a “peaceful resolution” to the situation.
Canadians have the right to protest, to disagree with their government, and to make their voices heard. We’ll always protect that right. But let’s be clear: They don’t have the right to blockade our economy, or our democracy, or our fellow citizens’ daily lives. It has to stop.
— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) February 8, 2022
Truckers demonstration in Ottawa called “Honkpocalypse” by pundits
Speaking in Parliament on Monday, Trudeau stated “Canadians have a right to protest, to disagree with their government, and to make their voices heard. But let’s be clear: They don’t have the right to blockade our economy, or our democracy, or our fellow citizens’ daily lives. It has to stop.” He later reiterated this sentiment in a Tweet.
In the House of Commons yesterday, Trudeau acknowledged that “this pandemic has sucked for all Canadians” adding “everyone is tired of having to wear masks and having to follow health restrictions. However, he said that Canada already has one of the world’s highest vaccination rates and he urged his fellow Canadians to adhere to all public health guidelines.
Ambassador Bridge between Detroit and Canada’s Windsor has been congested with trucks in support of the ongoing Freedom Convoy protest, paralyzing traffic completely. pic.twitter.com/V4kDDGbz0T
— Wittgenstein (@backtolife_2019) February 8, 2022
“Those who are shouting at others because they’re wearing a mask do not define what it is to be the majority of Canadians,” he then stated.
Indeed, only approximately 15% of Canadian truckers are still unvaccinated; however, their movement against mandated vaccines has gathered momentum from conservatives all over the country as well as on the other side of the border.
More than $10 million has been collected by donors — many of whom are Americans — who contributed to the Canadian truckers fund through the GoFundMe platform. Just last Friday, GoFundMe froze all the assets that had been donated to the protest, saying that it believed the action was “violent,” although there has been no violence perpetrated by the truckers themselves and remarkable little confrontation considering the enormous size of the protest.
At that time, GoFundMe told donors to the fund that they could submit a refund form to get their money back and that all funds that could not be returned to donors would be donated to a charity that was chosen by the Freedom Convoy itself.
There was an enormous amount of blowback after the unilateral decision, however, with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis promising to “investigate” the GoFundMe platform for fraud.
Just hours after DeSantis’ pronouncement, GoFundMe reversed its decision, saying that it would be refunding donors automatically.
The normally placid streets of the lovely capital city of Ottawa have been the scene of a noisy protest involving the almost constant honking of truck horns, causing some capital residents to say the protest has gone too far and prompting one pundit to call it the “Honkpocalypse.”
Canada’s public safety minister Marco Mendocino said that no one should be made to feel that they cannot leave their homes in peace, declaring “While everyone believes in the right to free speech, this convoy has crossed the line of acceptable conduct toward fellow Canadians many, many times,”
Mendocino urged that there be unity among all Canadian parties regarding the rule of law after some prominent members of the opposition Conservative Party voiced their support for the protest.
Mendocino stated “There should be no differences across political parties in the way that we are dealing with this moment. It would be a terrible precedent to say that if you show up the nation’s capital with heavy equipment and blockade the capital city that you can force reckless change in our public policy.”
Canada’s federal emergency preparedness minister Bill Blair, the former chief of the Toronto police, told the press that he has contacted the provincial authorities as well as the mayor of Ottawa to try to establish response to the protest, saying “It is well past the time to bring this protest to an end,” he said.
Partially in response to the relentless honking, which has made normal life in Ottawa almost impossible, an Ontario court judge approved an injunction sought by residents to stop the honking for ten days on Monday.
But the response to that was just more honking on the part of the semis that were parked right in front of the Parliament building.
On their part, a spokesman for the Freedom Convoy, Tom Marazzo, told the press yesterday that the truckers would like to return home but simply will not leave until, as he said, the “job is done.”
Initially, the Freedom Convoy rallied against the announcement made last year that all truckers crossing the busy US-Canada border would have to be fully vaccinated against the coronavirus. But the issue has snowballed, now involving a general protest against all vaccine mandates whatsoever, with some even calling for an end to the Trudeau government.
“I apologize if I’m bashing the guy (Trudeau) but honestly, from my assessment he’s got a .22 caliber mind in a .357 world,” said Marazzo, who is a software developer and a former member of the Canadian military.
“Put us at the table with somebody who actually cares about Canada,” he added.