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US urges Canada to use federal power to end bridge blockade

TORONTO (AP)

The Biden administration on Thursday urged Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government to use its federal power to end the blockade of trucks by Canadians protesting the country’s COVID-19 restrictions, because of the protest. Buoyancy forced auto factories on both sides of the border to close or scale back production.

For the fourth day in a row, truckers on what they call the Freedom Convoy blocked the Ambassador Bridge connecting Windsor, Ontario, to Detroit, disrupting the flow of auto parts and other vehicles. other products between the two countries.

The White House said Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg spoke to their Canadian counterparts and called on them to help resolve the impasse.

Federal Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino said Royal Canadian Mounted Police reinforcements are being sent to Windsor, Ottawa and Coutts, Alberta, where another border blockade is underway.

Trudeau mostly met with Canada’s opposition leaders late Thursday and said he spoke with the mayor of Windsor. Trudeau’s office said it was ready to “respond to whatever is necessary” to end the blockades.

Meanwhile, Conservative Ontario Premier Doug Ford has cut off 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.

Canadian officials had previously had their funding cut by GoFundMe after protest organizers used the site to raise about 10 million Canadian dollars ($7.8 million). GoFundMe determined that the fundraising attempt violated the website’s terms of service due to illegal activity.

With economic and political pressure mounting, Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens announced the city would seek a court order to end the occupation.

“The economic harm is not sustainable and it must end,” he said.

In the US, authorities braced for the possibility of similar truck-led protests by Canadians, and authorities in Paris and Belgium also banned road closures to prevent disruption in the country. there.

The US Department of Homeland Security said in a news release to state and local law enforcement agencies that it had received reports that truckers were planning to “potentially block roads in major cities” in a protest against vaccine regulations and other issues.

The agency said the convoy could begin in Southern California as early as this weekend, possibly disrupting traffic around the Super Bowl and reaching Washington in March in time for the State of the Union address, according to the release. copy of Tuesday’s report obtained by The Associated Press.

The White House said the department is “adding additional staff” for the Super Bowl as a precaution.

The ban on road blockades in Europe and the threat of prisons and hefty fines have also been prompted by online chatter from groups urging drivers to focus on Paris and Brussels over the next few days.

The Ambassador Bridge is the busiest route across the US-Canada border, carrying 25% of all trade between the two countries, and the impact of the blockade there has been felt quickly.

Ford said its Windsor engine plant reopened on Thursday after shutting down on Wednesday because of a parts shortage. However, the company’s plant and assembly plant in Oakville, Ontario, near Toronto, was operating at reduced capacity, the automaker said.

On the U.S. side, GM sent its first shift home two hours early Thursday morning at its Flint, Michigan heavy-duty pickup plant due to a shortage of parts.

Stellantis cut short its first shift Friday at its Jeep plant in Toledo, Ohio, due to a shortage of parts.

Additionally, Honda will temporarily halt production on an assembly line during the Friday shift at its plant in Alliston, Ontario. That’s because of delays at the border. Factories in the US are expected to resume normal operations on Friday.

Toyota said three of its plants in Ontario were closed for the rest of the week because of a shortage of parts and production had also stopped in Georgetown, Kentucky.

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer urged Canadian authorities to quickly resolve the impasse, saying: “It is affecting wages and production lines. That’s not acceptable “.

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

Protesters are decrying trucker vaccine regulation and other COVID-19 restrictions and are turning against Trudeau, despite many of Canada’s precautions, such as mask-wearing rules. and vaccine passports to enter restaurants, theaters and other places, were issued by the provincial government, not the federal government, and were quickly removed as the omicron rise subsided.

Trudeau continued to stand firm against lifting vaccine regulations, including requiring all truck drivers entering the country to be fully vaccinated. But since an estimated 90% of the nation’s trucks have been vaccinated, some conservatives have called on the prime minister to abandon the mandate.

The motorcade was promoted and cheered by many Fox News personalities and drew support from the likes of former President Donald Trump and Texas Senator Ted Cruz.

The Associated Press identified more than a dozen Facebook groups with about half a million members that are being used to support the Canadian protests or to plan similar protests in the US and Europe.

To get around the lockdown and get to Canada, Detroit-area truckers had to drive 70 miles north to Port Huron, Michigan, and cross the Blue Water Bridge, which was delayed by two time to leave the US.

The lockdown is coming at a bad time for the US auto industry. The nationwide supply of new vehicles is low due to a global shortage of computer chips, prompting automakers to temporarily close factories.

“The disruption we are seeing at the US-Canada border – at the Detroit-Windsor Ambassador Bridge and at other intersections – is adding to the strain on the supply chain for manufacturers and businesses. other in the United States,” the American Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers and Traders, said in a joint statement.

“We respectfully call on the Canadian government to act quickly to address the disruption to trade flows and its impact on manufacturers and other businesses on both sides of the border.”

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Krisher and Associated Press Writer Mike Householder contributed from Detroit. AP writers Aamer Madhani, Ben Fox, and Amanda Seitz contributed from Washington.

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https://www.winknews.com/2022/02/11/us-urges-canada-to-use-federal-powers-to-end-bridge-blockade/ US urges Canada to use federal power to end bridge blockade

Tom Vazquez

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