US Urges Canada to End Bridge Blockade

Trudeau is willing to 'respond with whatever it takes' to end COVID protests
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 11, 2022 4:39 AM CST
US Urges Canada to End Bridge Blockade
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau rises during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Thursday, Feb. 10, 2022.   (Justin Tang /The Canadian Press via AP)

(Newser) – The Biden administration urged Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's government Thursday to use its federal powers to end the truck blockade by Canadians protesting the country’s COVID-19 restrictions, as the bumper-to-bumper demonstration forced auto plants on both sides of the border to shut down or scale back production. For the fourth straight day, scores of truckers taking part in what they dubbed the Freedom Convoy blocked the Ambassador Bridge connecting Windsor, Ontario, to Detroit, disrupting the flow of auto parts and other products between the two countries. The White House said Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg spoke with their Canadian counterparts and urged them to help resolve the standoff, the AP reports.

Federal Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino said Royal Canadian Mounted Police reinforcements are being sent to Windsor, Ottawa, and Coutts, Alberta, where another border blockade is happening. Trudeau met virtually with leaders of Canada's opposition late Thursday and said he spoke with Windsor's mayor. Trudeau's office said there is a willingness to "respond with whatever it takes" to end the blockades. Conservative Ontario Premier Doug Ford, meanwhile, moved to cut off funding for the protests by successfully asking a court to freeze millions of dollars in donations to the convoy through crowd-funding site GiveSendGo. Ford has called the protests an occupation.

Canadian officials previously got GoFundMe to cut off funding after protest organizers used the site to raise about $7.8 million. GoFundMe determined that the fundraising effort violated the site’s terms of service due to unlawful activity. Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer also urged Canadian authorities to quickly resolve the standoff, saying: "It’s hitting paychecks and production lines. That is unacceptable." The protesters are decrying vaccine mandates for truckers and other COVID-19 restrictions and are railing against Trudeau, even though many of Canada's precautions, such as mask rules and vaccine passports, were enacted by provincial authorities, not the federal government, and are already rapidly being lifted as the omicron surge levels off.

(Read more Canada stories.)

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