Canadian protesters demonstrating against COVID-19 regulations have forced two of the world’s biggest carmakers, Ford and Toyota, to halt production at plants on both sides of the U.S.-Canada border.
The plants are shut down because workers there can’t get parts that are being delayed at two U.S. border points blocked by truckers, including the most trafficked bridge in North America.
The trade disruption is estimated to be costing $300 million a day, according to the BBC.
“Truckers blocking the most important border crossing, the Ambassador Bridge, waved Canadian flags and banners denouncing Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who has refused to scrap a rule requiring truckers entering Canada to be fully immunised against coronavirus,” the BBC said. “The demonstrators have also voiced opposition to Covid passports and the requirement to wear masks.”
The shutdowns came after four Canadian provinces moved to lift their COVID-19 restrictions, a response to the massive protest by truckers that has blockaded Ottawa, paralyzing the capital city.
Quebec, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Prince Edward Island provinces have all announced plans to eliminate or roll back some or all measures. For instance, Alberta “dropped its vaccine passport for places such as restaurants immediately and getting rid of masks at the end of the month,” the Associated Press reported.
The moves came this week after a throng of truckers shut down Ottawa, protesting a January 15 rule requiring truckers entering Canada to be fully-immunized against COVID-19. On Wednesday, more than 400 trucks gridlocked the downtown area. And a blockade by fed-up Canadians entered its third day at the Ambassador Bridge between Detroit and Windsor, Ontario, the busiest trade bridge in North America.
Some of the protesters say they are willing to die for their cause, the AP said, citing Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens.
“I’ll be brutally honest: You are trying to have a rational conversation and not everyone on the ground is a rational actor,” the mayor said. “Police are doing what is right by taking a moderate approach, trying to sensibly work through this situation where everyone can walk away, nobody gets hurt, and the bridge can open.”
Earlier this week, Trudeau derided the thousands of citizens protesting lockdowns and mask mandates as “a few people shouting and waving swastikas.”
As the huge protest, dubbed the “Freedom Convoy,” raged, Trudeau took aim at the opponents of nationwide regulations enacted over COVID-19 policies. During an emergency debate in Parliament on Monday, he blasted the trucker-led protests, accusing them of trying to derail Canada’s democracy.
“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,” Trudeau said.
Trudeau also made accusations that there are racist elements among the protesters. “This is a story of a country that got through this pandemic by being united, and a few people shouting and waving swastikas does not define who Canadians are.”
“This pandemic has sucked for all Canadians,” the prime minister said. “Everyone’s tired of COVID, but these protests are not the way to get through it,” he added.
Joseph Curl has covered politics for 35 years, including 12 years as White House correspondent, and ran the Drudge Report from 2010 to 2015. Send tips to [email protected]