Canadian police arrested two dozen protestors Sunday night to reopen one of the most important trade routes between the U.S. and its northern neighbor. Protesting against Canada’s vaccine mandate for truckers, the so-called “Freedom Convoy” blocked the Ambassador Bridge, which connects Detroit to Windsor. The arrests end a six-day standoff, but protests continue throughout the country.
Police arrested between 25 and 30 protestors and seized 12 vehicles that were blocking the bridge, reports said. Though protestors still block other border crossings. They want Canada to lift its cross-border vaccine mandate. Truckers who cross the border must show proof of vaccination or endure quarantine to return to their country.
Officials tried to negotiate with Ambassador Bridge protestors during the week-long standoff but got nowhere. On Friday, the city of Windsor and the Automotive Parts Manufacturers’ Association filed an injunction to have the bridge cleared of protestors. They said the blockade cost them up to $50 million a day in lost revenue. About 25 percent of all trade between the United States and Canada crosses that bridge.
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer called the re-opening a “win for Michigan.”
“It’s important to ensure that this does not happen again,” Whitmer said. “I will work to protect the economic freedom and well-being of families and businesses in Michigan.”
Protestors still hold other border crossings. About 50 trucks blocked one at Pembina, North Dakota. The Pacific Highway border crossing shutdown stretched into its third day on Monday. Police arrested four protestors there over the weekend, Canadian news agencies said.
Freedom Convoy Protestors Face ‘Serious Consequences’
The heaviest protesting is in Ottawa, Canada’s capital. Hundreds of trucks are scattered throughout the city blaring their horns and blocking roads. Ontario Premier Doug Ford promised “serious consequences” to protestors who persist. Those include fines of $100,000 and up to a year in prison.
“The blockade at our border in Windsor has now come to an end. The Ambassador Bridge has reopened,” Ford said. “And while Ottawa remains a more complex situation involving municipal, provincial, and federal law enforcement, all three levels of government are focused on ending the illegal occupation.
“To those who are still there, to those of you who are there with a sole objective of causing disruption and chaos, there will be serious consequences for this lawless activity.”
Though how officials will regain control of the situation remains unclear. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has refused to call in the military to break up protests, but he says “all options are on the table.”
Ontario officials on Monday announced the province would drop vaccine requirements in two weeks. People in the country’s most-populated province will no longer need to show proof of vaccination to go to restaurants, gyms, and sporting events beginning on March 1. The announcement, however, didn’t seem to have much impact on the protests.
Ford made clear in his declaration that he wasn’t caving to the protestors’ demands. He begged Canadians to stand up against the protests.
“We need law and order. Our country is at risk now. It’s not just not happening here in Ottawa, but it’s happening in Alberta and British Columbia,” Ford said. “We won’t accept it”