Truckers in Canada block access to the U.S.
Several days of a massive trucker protest have passed in Canada over COVID-19 restrictions.
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Despite the declared state of emergency in Ottawa, as well as the efforts of local and national authorities to dissuade the protesters who have paralyzed the North American country since the end of January, the situation has continued to escalate to the point of blockading the Ambassador Bridge, the connecting point between Canada and the U.S. and the busiest international crossing in North America.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who just came out of the isolation after testing positive for coronavirus as the caravan of truckers made its resounding entrance to the Canadian capital, stressed that Canadians have the right to protest, to disagree with its government and make its voice heard.
“We will always protect that right. But let's be clear: They have no right to block our economy, or our democracy, or the daily lives of our fellow citizens. It has to stop," Trudeau said.
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
Origin of the protests
Amid a conflict that was taking place between the Canadian government and a segment of its population due to the enforced health regulations of the pandemic, the situation escalated after truckers joined the conversation and objected to the mandate that requires the union workers to either be vaccinated, or undergo strict controls and quarantine in cases of a positive test.
After the government's refusal to negotiate these measures, a gigantic truck gathering starred in what they called the "freedom convoy," leaving trucks and vehicles in its wake and taking over the capital, which has endured several days of unrest that has forced some businesses to close their doors.
While Trudeau's government seeks to add more resources to deter the protests without giving up measures to combat the coronavirus, more protesters have joined to reject the mandates, assuring that they do not intend to move until several of the measures that they consider to affect their freedom are rescinded.
I touched base with Mayor @JimWatsonOttawa again today, and spoke about the current situation on the ground. I let him know that, as we’ve been since the beginning, we’re here for the people of Ottawa – and we’ll make sure the city has the resources they need.— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) February 8, 2022
The Ambassador Bridge, which connects Windsor, Ontario with Detroit, is a place where more than 40,000 people pass every day, including travelers, tourists and truckers.
In addition to business closures and delays caused by blockades, hate crimes and violent clashes between protesters and authorities, as well as disgruntled neighbors, have been reported.
For their part, several industrial operations have warned of interruptions in their supply chain, especially the meat sector, which is concerned about blockades to access its main market, since the United States is the main importer of this Canadian product.
“The Windsor Police Service has a large police presence monitoring the demonstrations along Huron Church Rd. These activities have interrupted normal vehicle traffic flow but we have been able to continue a limited amount of access to the Ambassador Bridge. Officers are on scene addressing traffic points, public safety and enforcement. Commercial vehicles are being redirected to the Blue Water Bridge in Sarnia. The Detroit-Windsor Tunnel remains open to non-commercial vehicles. Please avoid the area, use alternative routes and monitor our social media for updates,” reads a statement from the police hoping to unblock the area.
Canada's vaccination stats
Something not understood about the protests is that they're taking place amid a scenario in which about 90% of truckers are fully vaccinated and eligible to move across borders, according to government data. According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, more than 80% of the population is also fully vaccinated.