Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau blames Americans for the civil unrest causing gridlock along the U.S.-Canada border and in Canada’s capital city of Ottawa.
Trudeau on Friday said that Americans were funding the “Freedom Convoy” protesters who have demonstrated against vaccine mandates and other COVID-19 restrictions in Ottawa for over two weeks. Other protesters have blocked off crossings along the U.S.-Canada border, including the Ambassador Bridge connecting Detroit to Canada.
“This morning, I had a direct call with President Biden to talk about our shared challenges at the border,” Trudeau said, according to Just The News. “I updated him on the situation, particularly in Windsor.”
“We discussed the American, and indeed global influences on the protest. We talked about the U.S.-based flooding of the 911 phone lines in Ottawa, the presence of U.S. citizens in the blockades, and the impact of foreign money to fund this illegal activity,” the prime minister said.
“President Biden and I both agreed that for the security of people and the economy, these blockades cannot continue,” he said. “So make no mistake: the border cannot, and will not stay closed.”
Canadian police managed to clear vehicles from the Ambassador Bridge on Saturday. More protesters showed up to the bridge and have continued to lock it down, however, according to reports. According to The Detroit News:
The demonstrators, once vastly outnumbered by the Canadian police on scene, may now have eclipsed them.
At 4 p.m., police began erecting a concrete barrier between the protestors and the foot of the bridge. They also announced for the first time that they would begin towing cars that were parked several blocks away from the span.
But the crowd was undeterred.
Several blocks from the bridge, people milled about a blocked-off street. Despite the freezing temperatures, the atmosphere was festive. They waved signs, chanted “freedom” and a woman sang “O Canada,” the national anthem.
Dozens of police, forming a line, had begun steadily pushing the protesters away from the bridge and onto nearby streets in the morning. They succeeded in clearing several lanes of traffic but the bridge remained closed. Windsor police said they didn’t know when it might reopen.
Trudeau has begun to face political backlash over his handling of the protests and COVID-19 from dissenting voices in his own party this week. At least two Liberal Party lawmakers pushed the prime minister to come up with some plan to navigate Canada out of pandemic restrictions.
“I think it’s time to stop dividing Canadians, to stop pitting one part of the population against another. I can’t help but notice with regret that both tone and the policies of my government changed drastically on the eve and during the last election campaign,” Liberal MP Joel Lightbound said in a Tuesday press conference.
“Time to stop with the division and the distractions. It’s time to choose positive, not coercive methods. It’s time to unite. Finally, why am I alone voicing these concerns publicly today? I can tell you that I’m not the only one who feels varying degrees as I do within our ranks,” he concluded. “I remain hopeful this call for more humanism, for more reason, for more hope will be heard.”