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8 Feb, 2022 22:47

US responds to trucker blockade of border with Canada

The White House argues ongoing US-Canada border blockade “not related” to vaccine mandate
US responds to trucker blockade of border with Canada

As the Ambassador Bridge between Windsor, Ontario and Detroit, Michigan remained closed for trucks as of Tuesday evening, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki referred to the issue causing the closure as “sporadic congestion” and insisted it was not related to Covid-19 vaccine mandates. 

“The protests going on across Canada, which have spread to a bridge, are leading to sporadic congestion and blockages,” Psaki told reporters at the briefing on Tuesday afternoon.

While “some” of the congestion is due to protests, “it is clear that these disruptions have broadened in scope beyond the vaccine requirement implementation,” she added.

"I know there’s been some suggestion – not by reporters, necessarily, at all – that this congestion is related to the vaccine requirements. It’s not."

Psaki also endorsed the vaccine mandates, saying they have been effective, helped protect people from the virus, and had been implemented with “no disruptions.”

Her statement came as thousands of Canadian truckers, who drove across the country in opposition to the vaccine mandate, continued to camp outside the parliament in Ottawa. Another group of truck drivers blocked an access road to the bridge between Michigan and Ontario on Monday evening. 

On Tuesday afternoon, Windsor police said there was “a limited amount of access” to the bridge and urged commercial traffic to use an alternate route. The Michigan Department of Transportation was less circumspect, tweeting: “BRIDGE TO CANADA IN DETROIT IS CLOSED.”

Several truckers taking part in the blockade told the Canadian state broadcaster CBC that they were there to specifically oppose the vaccine mandates. 

“People who want the vaccine, go get the vaccine. I don’t want the vaccine. I'm just out here, we want our lives back,” said Nick Friesen. “This mask on my face, that’s not how I want my kids to remember me.”

“I’m here for my kids, just to get it back to normal,” said trucker Sam Kovak. “Just end, give us back what we need to live again. Trudeau, Doug Ford, just listen to us,” he added, referring to the prime minister of Canada and the premier of Ontario. “We're sorry, but we have to make a stand.”

The Ambassador Bridge is Canada’s busiest border crossing and the busiest in North America, accounting for 27% of the trade between the US and its northern neighbor, according to the Post-Millennial. Some 20 million people live along the corridor from Windsor to Quebec City, the most densely populated part of Canada.