WINDSOR (Ontario) — The tense standoff at the U.S.-Canadian border crossing that is so vital to both countries’ economies seemed to be ending peacefully on Saturday. Canadian police arrived to disperse the almost weeklong blockade, and protesters fled without resistance.
Numerous police officers approached the Ambassador Bridge, which spans the river between Detroit, Ontario, and Windsor, Ontario. They had stayed there for the night in defiance to new warnings to end their blockade. This disrupted traffic flow and forced both sides of the auto industry to stop production.
A man wearing “Mandate Freedom” & “Trump 2024”, spray-painted on his car, left the scene as protesters started to dismantle a small, tarp-covered camp. To cheers and chants “Freedom!” a trucker honked his horn and drove off. The bridge was not breached by police, but officers continued to keep people from it. There were no physical confrontations.
Protests against vaccine mandates and other coronavirus restraints were held at the Ambassador Bridge and downtown Ottawa. They also angered Prime Minister Justin Trudeau who called them a “fringe” of Canadian society. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security warned of possible truck protests in the United States.
Windsor police stated that no one was arrested by mid-morning, but they urged people not to cross the bridge. Avoid the area!
Daniel Kosss was one of those who stayed over. He said that the protest had brought attention to COVID-19 mandates, and that he was pleased it remained peacefully.
Koss stated, “It’s win-win.” “The pandemic is already rolling down, they can eliminate all the mandates and everyone will be happy. The government does the right things, and all the protesters are happy.
He stated that he believed most people would disperse orderly, “because it’s not our intention to cause a huge problem.”
A judge had ordered that the blockade of pickup trucks and cars be ended. Ontario Premier Doug Ford declared an emergency, which allows for fines up to 100,000 Canadian dollars as well as imprisonment for those who illegally block roads, bridges, walkways or other critical infrastructure.
“The illegal blockades have a negative impact on trade, supply chains and manufacturing. They are affecting Canadian families, workers and businesses. Francois-Philippe Champagne, Federal Innovation Minister, tweeted Saturday that he was pleased to see Windsor Police and its policing partners begin enforcement at the Ambassador Bridge. These blockades must be stopped.”
The Ambassador Bridge, which carries 25% of all trade between Canada and the United States, is the most important U.S.-Canadian border crossing. This standoff occurred at a time when auto production is already in crisis due to shortages of computer chips from pandemics and other disruptions to supply chains.
After thousands of protesters gathered in Ottawa, Mayor Jim Watson declared an emergency. Although their numbers are decreasing, hundreds of trucks still park in front of Parliament Buildings. Demonstrators have also set up portable toilets outside Trudeau’s office.
Saturday’s protesters tore down the fence authorities had put around the National War Memorial two week ago after protestors urinated on it. As police watched, some demonstrators shouted “liberte,” which is French for “freedom,” while others chanted the same thing.
The Ottawa police issued a statement calling the protest illegal occupation. They also stated that they would wait for reinforcements before implementing a plan of ending the demonstration. The statement didn’t go into detail.
While protestors are shaming vaccine mandates for truckers, and other COVID-19 limitations, many of Canada’s infection measures such as mask rules or vaccine passports to get into restaurants and theatres are already disappearing as the omicron surge increases.
Pandemic restrictions in Canada have been much stricter than those in the U.S. but Canadians have generally supported them. The COVID-19 death rates are one-third of those in the United States.
On Saturday, protests inspired by the Canadian demonstrations could be seen throughout Europe.
Police stopped at least 500 cars trying to enter Paris via key roads but they were caught by them. More than 200 motorists were issued tickets, while at least two others were taken into custody amid a search of knives, hammers, and other objects in a central Square.
A few protestors on Champs Elysees Avenue defied a police order were subject to tear gas. For the weekend protesters who oppose France’s vaccination pass, around 7,000 police officers were mobilized.
Numerous trucks and other vehicles, including tractors, arrived in The Hague to block the entrance to the historic parliamentary compound. They were joined by protesters on foot, who carried a banner that read “Love & Freedom, No dictatorship” in Dutch.
Protesters set up camp earlier this week in New Zealand after they rolled up in a convoy with cars and trucks to the Parliament grounds. After initial attempts to remove them led to physical confrontations, police decided to take a more passive approach.
On Friday, Trevor Mallard, Parliament Speaker, ordered his staff to turn on lawn sprinklers to water them. He also instructed them to play Barry Manilow songs and the 1990s smash “Macarena”, over loudspeakers in an attempt to make them mad. Protesters responded with their own songs, including Twisted Sisters’ “We’re not Gonna Take It”.