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Canadian authorities look to the court to break the blockade

TORONTO (AP)

Authorities in Canada appeared in court Friday in an attempt to break a blockade by truckers protesting the country’s COVID-19 restrictions as parts shortages pervade the auto industry. on both sides of the US-Canada border.

The mayor of Windsor, Ontario, planned to seek the injunction at an afternoon hearing against members of the self-proclaimed Freedom Delegation who used a series of pickup trucks to silence the Ambassador Bridge. connecting the city with Detroit. The deadlock entered its fifth day on Friday.

Federal, provincial, and local governments have been hesitant to forcibly remove protesters there and elsewhere around the country, reflecting a lack of local police staffing, Canada’s respect for freedom of speech and fear of a backlash. Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens warned earlier this week that some truckers were “ready to die”.

But pressure to reopen the bridge appears to be growing, with Ford, General Motors, Toyota and Honda closing car plants or canceling shifts because of parts shortages, and the Biden administration urging Prime Minister Justin Trudeau uses federal power to end the blockade. The governor of Michigan also called on Canadian authorities to quickly resolve the impasse.

Ambassador Bridge is the busiest US-Canada border route, playing an important role in goods trade between the two countries. The standstill comes as the auto industry is already struggling to maintain production in the face of pandemic-induced computer chip shortages and other supply chain disruptions.

“American lawmakers are worried, and rightfully so,” said Nelson Wiseman, a political science professor at the University of Toronto. “The White House is now putting pressure on Trudeau to act more decisively.”

Hundreds of lorry protesters have also paralyzed the streets of downtown Ottawa for nearly two weeks now and have now closed all three border crossings: at Windsor; in Coutts, Alberta, across from Montana; and at Emerson, Manitoba, across from North Dakota.

The Freedom Convoy has been promoted and cheered by many Fox News personalities and drawn support from the likes of former President Donald Trump.

“This is an unprecedented protest. It has a significant level of fundraising, coordination, and communication. They have command centers established here, across the country and beyond this country,” said Ottawa Police Chief Peter Sloly.

On Friday, amid signs that authorities may be preparing for trouble, police in Windsor and Ottawa waited for reinforcements from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

The mayor of Ottawa has ordered an additional 1,800 police officers, nearly doubling the existing workforce for the city’s police force, which already has 2,100 officers and civilian members.

The reaction to the protests was also marked by disagreement over who was in charge. This week, Canada’s emergency preparedness minister said that Ontario had the ultimate responsibility, while the province’s transport minister said it was the federal government’s duty to secure the border.

Additionally, the leadership of the opposition Conservative Party at the federal level has openly supported truckers, seemingly happy to address Trudeau’s issue.

“The problem is that the police force is strained for all three levels of government,” Wiseman said, adding: “If anyone ` `takes responsibility’, they will be accused of failure when things are not resolved. decide quickly or if things go awry.”

Protests have also spread outside of Canada. Protesters angered by the pandemic restrictions drove to Paris in scattered convoys of goods, cars and trucks on Friday to blockade the French capital, defying a police ban .

And in a bulletin to state and local law enforcement officials, the US Department of Homeland Security warned that truck protests may be taking place in the United States. The agency said protests could begin in Southern California as early as this weekend and spread to Washington around the Confederate state address in March.

Wiseman said the Canadian military should have been called in after a week of stalemate in Ottawa.

“The reluctance of federal agencies to act decisively has encouraged occupations by occupiers and copycats,” he said. “Ottawa, I believe, will be forced to use the army.”

Canadian protesters are decrying trucker vaccine regulations and other COVID-19 restrictions and are turning against Trudeau. However, many of the country’s infection measures were quickly lifted as omicron levels spiked.

Trudeau continues to stand firm against lifting vaccine mandates. The prime minister has called the protesters a “clan” that believes in conspiracy theories and wears “tin foil hats”. It just makes them more emotional.

Pandemic restrictions in Canada are much stricter than in the US, but Canadians largely support them. The vast majority of Canadians are vaccinated, and the death rate from COVID-19 is one-third that of the United States. Canada lacked hospital capacity, so the provinces quickly imposed closures when the waves hit.

Conservative Ontario Premier Doug Ford has cut funding for the protests by asking the court to freeze millions of dollars in donations to the motorcade through the community funding site GiveSendGo. Ford has called the protests an occupation and is expected to announce further measures on Friday.

Canadian officials had previously asked GoFundMe to cut funding after protest organizers used the site to raise about 10 million Canadian dollars ($7.8 million.) GoFundMe determined that the effort caused fund violated the website’s terms of service because of illegal activity.

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https://www.winknews.com/2022/02/11/canadian-authorities-look-to-the-courts-to-break-blockade/ Canadian authorities look to the court to break the blockade

Tom Vazquez

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