Ontario premier declares state of emergency over ‘illegal occupation’ ⋆ Michigan Advance
After days of right-wing Canadian protests against COVID-19 vaccine mandates that closed the Ambassador Bridge connecting the country and Michigan, Ontario Premier Doug Ford on Friday Published a state of emergency.
“My message to those who are still in Ottawa, to those who are at our border crossings, please go home,” Ford said. “To those of you who brought your children, please take them home.”
Calling it an “unlawful occupation,” Ford said he would pass laws to protect borders and other infrastructure that would face fines of up to $100,000 and a year in jail. He added that he would consider revoking the personal and/or business licenses of violators.
“People are frustrated, they’re scared and they’re angry,” Ford said. He added, “We can’t let people take over towns, hold people hostage.”
The North Dakota and Montana border crossings were also blocked. Those crossing the Canada-US border are obligatory be vaccinated or face a two-week quarantine. Motorists who are not fully vaccinated must show proof of a negative PCR test collected within 72 hours of arriving at the border and must quarantine after arrival.
Protesters agreed on Friday to open a traffic lane on the Ambassador Bridge. The Detroit-Windsor Tunnel, located about two miles east of the Ambassador Bridge, is open but cannot accommodate large trucks.
The bridge is not owned by the governments of Canada or the United States, but is owned by the Moroun family’s Detroit International Bridge Co., which released a statement on Tuesday that it “hopes for a quick resolution that will keep traffic flowing without hindrance”.
Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer continued on Friday to call on Canadian authorities to resolve the dispute at the vital border crossing linking the industrial centers of the United States and Canada. The shutdown disrupted Detroit automakers’ supply chain and closed factories.
“I obviously burned the phone line talking with people from the White House to the Canadian ambassador to our congressional delegation and some of the leaders of the Canadian government,” Whitmer said. Recount CNN Friday. “We need to push to resolve this issue and it needs to be quick. And of course we want this to be done safely as well. But it has to happen. We cannot let one more minute pass unnecessarily because this border is too important for our economy, for the security of our homeland, and as we develop our economy, it is a crucial moment.
The Biden administration has urged Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government to use its federal powers to end the truck blockade. Trudeau agreed with Whitmer and issued a statement on Thursday.
“Tonight I had several meetings focusing on the illegal blockades and occupations taking place across the country. They harm the communities in which they take place – and they harm our country’s jobs, businesses and economy,” he said. tweeted. “We will continue to work closely with municipal and provincial governments to end these blockades and ensure they have the resources they need.
U.S. Representative Brenda Lawrence (D-Southfield) also called for an end to the blockade.
“The Ambassador Bridge blockade hurts families, workers, small businesses and manufacturers in Michigan, especially at a time when our supply chain is so fragile. I firmly want to say that full and regular travel must resume on deck,” Lawrence tweeted Thursday.
However, several Republicans, including former President Donald Trump, supported the truck convoy protest. Rep. David Martin (R-Davison) released a statement Thursday calling on Whitmer “to work with partners in the United States and Canada to end vaccination policies that have led to protests that have halted truck traffic on the Ambassador Bridge.
GOP gubernatorial candidates Garrett Soldano and Kevin Rinke both issued videos supporting the right-wing protest, Soldano calling them “true freedom fighters.”
Paul Leland, owner of My Detroit Address, a city-based parcel post logistics company that sits 1,000 feet from the Ambassador Bridge, said he supports COVID vaccinations. But he told the Advance Friday that his business suffered from COVID-19 mandates. In the last two years of the pandemic, it had to reduce its staff from four people to a single part-time employee, all residents of the Detroit area.
“Warrants need to stop,” Leland said. “I can’t last any longer.”
Leland said truck drivers and other motorists of essential workers such as nurses who commute between the United States and Canada have helped power restaurants in Detroit’s Mexicantown neighborhood as well as convenience stores and d other Detroit area businesses.
“Everyone is hurting now,” Leland said.