Ontario has brought in more draconian rules to crack down on Freedom Convoy truckers – including vehicle seizures and fines – just days after honking was banned and after the US told Canada to use federal powers to end the blockades.
US President Joe Biden on Thursday urged his Canadian counterpart Justin Trudeau to impose further rules as the bumper-to-bumper demonstration on the city’s Ambassador Bridge forced auto plants on both sides of the border to shut down or scale back production.
The bridge, which connects Windsor, Ontario with Detroit, Michigan, is North America’s busiest international land border and usually carries more than $327million of goods per day on over 8,000 trucks, accommodating 27 percent of the approximately $400 billion in annual trade between Canada and the US.
Truck drivers, who have been in the city since the Freedom Convoy traveled to the nation’s capitol on January 23, have since Monday blocked the bridge in a demonstration against Trudeau’s Covid-19 vaccine mandate.
Under the rules, truckers driving international routes must be fully vaccinated, and though 85 per cent of them are, many oppose the rules.
The White House on Thursday said Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg spoke with their Canadian counterparts and urged them to help resolve the standoff.
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 happening.
Trudeau met virtually with leaders of Canada’s opposition late Thursday and said he spoke with Windsor’s mayor. Trudeau’s office said there is a willingness to ‘respond with whatever it takes’ to end the blockades.
Conservative Ontario Premier Doug Ford, meanwhile, moved to cut off funding for the protests by successfully asking a court to freeze millions of dollars in donations to the convoy through crowd-funding site GiveSendGo. Ford has called the protests an occupation.
Canadian officials previously got GoFundMe to cut off funding after protest organizers used the site to raise about 10 million Canadian dollars ($7.8 million). GoFundMe determined that the fundraising effort violated the site’s terms of service due to unlawful activity.
And with political and economic pressure mounting, Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens announced the city will seek a court injunction to end the occupation. He said: ‘The economic harm is not sustainable and it must come to an end.’
Trudeau on Thursday night said that he had been in talks about how to end the protests, which began in mid January and have caused significant economic damage.
The drivers set out from British Columbia on January 23 for Ottawa, and staged a protest in the capital on January 29 before taking their demonstrations across the country.
‘This evening, I had several meetings that were focused on the illegal blockades and occupations happening across the country,’ Trudeau tweeted.
‘They’re harming the communities they’re taking place in – and they’re hurting jobs, businesses, and our country’s economy.’
Trudeau said he had held an Incident Response Group meeting with ministers and officials to discuss the crisis.
‘We’ll continue to work closely with municipal and provincial governments to end these blockades, and to make sure they have the resources they need,’ he said.
He said he had spoken to the mayor of Windsor, Drew Dilkens, to offer his support.
‘We’re committed to helping the Mayor and the province get the situation under control – because it is causing real harm to workers and economies on both sides of the border.’
And he spoke to leaders of the opposition, urging them to unite with him and call for an end to the protests.
‘Finally, I briefed the leaders of the opposition parties on the current situation and the latest developments.
‘I stressed how important it is for all Members of Parliament, from every party, to denounce these illegal acts – and to call for an end to these blockades.’
This is an excerpt from Daily Mail.
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