Canada Protests: Plans for a Protest by Truckers in the U.S. Gain Momentum


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Heavy trucks and private vehicles shut down the Ambassador Bridge, Canada’s busiest link to the United States, located between Detroit and Ontario.CreditCredit…Sarah Rice for The New York Times

As Ottawa remained paralyzed by nearly two weeks of protests against pandemic measures, the demonstrations continued to reverberate beyond Canada, with a new road blockade temporarily cutting off the country’s busiest border crossing and copycat convoys spreading to New Zealand and Australia, with plans for a third in the United States.

While smaller than the protests that have buffeted the core of Ottawa, Canada’s capital, the new protest targets the Ambassador Bridge to Detroit. The bridge is a vital link for the automobile industry, which relies on a constant shuttling of parts and components across the border to keep factories humming in Ontario and the Midwestern United States.

The heavy trucks and private vehicles have blocked traffic destined for Canada. On Tuesday morning the Canada Border Services Agency listed the bridge as “temporarily closed.” But Windsor Police said on Twitter that traffic was again moving to the United States through a secondary entrance to the bridge.

Most of the trucks in the Windsor protest were covered with flags and posters denouncing vaccine mandates and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Mr. Trudeau himself had his own message for the protesters in the national capital, whom he accused of undermining Canadian democracy: “It has to stop.”

In the United States, plans for a demonstration by truckers similar to the one in Ottawa appear to be gaining momentum, aided by online supporters.

The route and timing of the demonstration, meant to protest pandemic restrictions in the United States, was set to be announced on Tuesday evening, said Brian Brase, a trucker who is organizing the American effort. According to messages posted on social media, the route may start in Sacramento, Calif., and end in Washington, D.C., but Mr. Brase declined to comment on details of the convoy until an official announcement was made.

It is unclear how large any such convoy might be, should it come to pass. But anti-vaccine activists have started planning on popular forums on Facebook and Telegram, the messaging app.







‘It Has to Stop’: Trudeau Denounces Anti-Vaccine Protesters in Ottawa

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau defiantly called for an end to protests in Canada’s capital, where truckers and anti-vaccine groups have paralyzed the city center.

Individuals are trying to blockade our economy, our democracy and our fellow citizens’ daily lives. It has to stop. The people of Ottawa don’t deserve to be harassed in their own neighborhoods. They don’t deserve to be confronted with the inherent violence of a swastika flying on a street corner, or a Confederate flag, or the insults and jeers just because they’re wearing a mask. That’s not who Canada — Canadians are. That’s not what Canadians demonstrated over the past two years, of consistently, continually being there for each other. The people of Ottawa, indeed, people across the country, deserve to have their safety respected and deserve to get their lives back.

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau defiantly called for an end to protests in Canada’s capital, where truckers and anti-vaccine groups have paralyzed the city center.CreditCredit…Justin Tang/The Canadian Press, via Associated Press

Speaking to the House of Commons in Ottawa on Monday night, the prime minister said the protests, which began in opposition to Covid-19 restrictions, were harassing Ottawa residents “in their own neighborhoods.”

They are “trying to blockade our economy, our democracy and our fellow citizens’ daily lives,” he said.

Mr. Trudeau said on Twitter that hundreds of Royal Canadian Mounted Police had been mobilized to support Ottawa police officers, and promised that the Canadian government and city would employ “whatever resources are needed to get the situation under control.” On Sunday, the authorities in Ottawa had declared a state of emergency.

The prime minister faced new dissent from within his own party ranks on Tuesday, when Joël Lightbound, a Liberal member of Parliament from Quebec, spoke out against Mr. Trudeau’s handling of the pandemic, saying that people worried about the government’s policies have “legitimate concerns.”

He said Mr. Trudeau shouldn’t “demonize” people worried about pandemic restrictions.

In Ottawa on Tuesday, several hundred trucks continued to paralyze the city center, but the nonstop honking of previous days appeared to have subsided. Reports on local radio in Ottawa said residents were able to sleep undisturbed for the first time in over a week. But many businesses have been shuttered during the protests, losing tens of millions of dollars.

The demonstrations in Ottawa started in January as a loosely organized convoy of truck drivers and protesters opposed to the mandatory vaccination of truckers crossing the U.S.-Canadian border. But it morphed into a protest against pandemic restrictions in general and the leadership of Mr. Trudeau.

The Ottawa demonstrations have also become a rallying cry for powerful far-right and anti-vaccine groups around the world.

Prominent far-right figures in numerous countries, including the United States, Australia and Germany, have praised the protests, spreading the images and arguments even more widely. Some, including in the United States, want to replicate the protests.

Donors have contributed millions of dollars meant for the Canadian protesters in online campaigns.

Now, the protests are threatening the supply chain of an industry with deep links between Canada and the United States.

Flavio Volpe, the president of the Auto Parts Manufacturers Association, a Canadian trade group, said that about $300 million dollars in goods cross the bridge daily with about $100 million of that related to the auto industry. Most assembly plants, he said, have enough parts for only one day’s production, raising the possibility of layoffs if there is a prolonged border disruption.

“The idea that a group is hiding under the profession of trucking, though unsupported by trucking associations, to disrupt this is brain-dead,” he said.

Doug Ford, the premier of Ontario, denounced the bridge blockade on Tuesday, noting that it is used by many health care workers.

Officials in Detroit are redirecting traffic bound for Canada to a border crossing about two hours away in Port Huron, Michigan, and Sarnia, Ontario. Another Canadian protest convoy closed a highway leading to that bridge on Sunday and slowed border traffic.

A blockade of the border between the Western province of Alberta and Montana that started on Jan. 29 continues to slow and sometimes close the border in the town of Coutts.