US tells Canada to stop trucker protests at border
US Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg have urged their Canadian counterparts to “use federal powers” to stop truckers protesting against Canada’s Covid-19 vaccine mandate from blocking the busiest border crossing between the two countries.
Angry truckers have been disrupting traffic across the Ambassador Bridge, which connects Detroit, Michigan with Windsor, Ontario, for four days straight. The last access point to the bridge was completely shut down early on Thursday morning, CBC News reported. Windsor Police, meanwhile, have asked drivers to take alternative routes.
Mayorkas and Buttigieg offered the “full support” of their respective departments to the Canadian government in resolving the crisis.
“US and Canadian border and customs authorities are working with great urgency to ensure the continued flow of goods and services across our international border, leveraging alternative land routes, as well as air and sea options,” a White House official said.
“We know that disruptions like these hit hard-working American families the hardest,” the White House said, as quoted by CBC News. A US official further told the outlet that Washington was working “around the clock” to resolve the matter.
Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens told CNN that authorities were prepared to start “physically” removing protesters unless they stop disrupting the traffic.
Canadian police said on Thursday that protesters had used trucks and farm equipment to block the crossing connecting Pembina, North Dakota to Emerson, Manitoba. They also blocked the Coutts access point between Alberta and Montana.
Truckers argue that the vaccine mandate and other pandemic restrictions endanger their livelihoods. They began the so-called ‘Freedom Convoy 2022’ rallies in Canada’s capital, Ottawa, last month. The protest has since morphed into a broader demonstration against the government, with some calling for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to resign.
Trudeau, who says the vast majority of the country’s truckers have been fully vaccinated, has taken a harsh stance against the protests.
“Blockages, illegal demonstrations are unacceptable and are negatively impacting businesses and manufacturers,” the PM said on Wednesday. “We must do everything to bring them to an end.”
Trudeau argued that protesters were trying to “blockade our economy, our democracy, and our fellow citizens’ daily lives.”