Canada’s Ambassador Bridge reopens after blockade by ‘Freedom Convoy’ protesters

Detroit International Bridge Co. said in a statement that “the Ambassador Bridge is now fully open, once again allowing the free flow of commerce between the Canadian and American economies,” according to the Associated Press.

But the appeal of such protests spreading across Canada as well as New Zealand and European capitals was undeniable on Sunday. Developments in the saga included an interim deal the mayor of Ottawa said he brokered for protesters to be less disruptive, reached with a loosely grouped movement with no central leadership. Weary residents of Ottawa and other cities have started to take matters into their own hands as they try to thwart protesters after the disruptions that began more than two weeks ago.

Canadian officials have been caught off guard since a convoy of truckers opposed to vaccination mandates was illegally parked by Parliament on January 28 and launched a global movement of people who are fed up with pandemic policies, angry at their governments and, in some cases, driven by extremist views and calls for insurrection. Protests from New Zealand to France have adopted the tactics and slogans of Canadian convoys, defying authorities and police as threats of punishment do not seem to deter many protesters.

The police effort to disrupt Windsor convoys was the most robust move ever by Canadian law enforcement, who face growing pressure to do more to disperse big rigs and protest sites highly organized that paralyze the capital.

In Ottawa, the well-funded Freedom Convoy protesters stayed despite threats of fines, jail time, and the loss of their licenses. Although local and provincial authorities declared a state of emergency, raucous dance parties with illegal fireworks and booze raged through jammed streets throughout the weekend as police stood by widely apart.

Police aim to contain protests and minimize harm to police and residents, but ‘it doesn’t work… where organizers aim to be as disruptive as possible to the Canadian government and economy until their political demands are met,” said Michael Kempa. , professor of criminology at the University of Ottawa.

Ottawa police cited the presence of children, which they say are in about 100 of the 400 trucks parked in the city, as a major concern. Highly flammable red and yellow canisters of fuel for trucks and heaters are also constantly circulating in the “red zone” of blocked Ottawa streets.

On February 12, authorities attempted to lift a protest blockade near the Ambassador Bridge, a key trade corridor to Detroit. (The Washington Post)

On Sunday, Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson said he had reached a tentative agreement with a key protest organizer to remove trucks from residential areas and to limit vehicles to a perimeter near the Parliament Buildings in downtown. city ​​in exchange for a meeting.

Tamara Lich, president of Freedom Convoy 2022, one of the organizing bodies for the protests, told Watson in a letter dated Feb. 12 and released Sunday that organizers “will be working hard over the next 24 hours to get people on board.” truckers. ”

Watson said he would meet with Lich and his group if there was “clear evidence” by noon Monday that his demands were met.

Watson said on CTV News Ottawa that downtown residents ‘need a respite from the horror and hell they’ve been through for the past three weeks’ – including honking, cat squealing and ‘diesel vomits all night,” he said.

Watson said the truckers involved would not receive “special treatment” and would have to pay any tickets they may have accrued. On Sunday evening, the city issued a statement urging residents to avoid non-essential travel downtown, where many public amenities were to be closed.

Some Ottawa residents on social media criticized the deal as effectively allowing convoys, which the mayor’s office denied was the intention.

On February 11, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promised President Biden swift action to end blockades by anti-vaccine protesters at border crossings. (Reuters)

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has also come under fire for failing to mobilize more federal resources to help Ottawa’s overwhelmed government and police.

Emergency Preparedness Minister Bill Blair said the federal government is considering invoking the never-before-used Emergencies Act 1988, which gives the federal government broad powers subject to parliamentary approval.

“The closure of our borders, the targeting of critical infrastructure, especially our entry points by those behind these protests, poses a significant threat to the national security of this country, and we must do what is necessary. to end it,” he added. Blair told CTV Canada.

Both Canada and the United States have denounced the border disruptions as damaging to trade, industry and local communities. Automakers, including Toyota and Ford, have reduced some nearby operations in recent days, citing disruptions in the delivery of necessary manufacturing parts.

The disruptions also affected other vital cross-border arteries – including that of Coutts, albertawhich connects to Montana, and from Surrey in British Columbia to Washington State.

The White House said on Sunday that the two countries had discussed “the imperative to take swift and strong action and to deter a future blockade.”

Ontario Premier Doug Ford called the blockades a “siege” and declared a provincial state of emergency on Friday, warning protesters of “serious” consequences, including fines of up to US$78,500 and prison sentences.

In Windsor, police began enforcing a injunction ordering truckers and their supporters to leave and ticketed and towed vehicles. But a defiant core of around two dozen protesters remained on foot as temperatures dipped below freezing. Early on Sunday, police began moving on crowds near the bridge, which has been closed since last Monday.

Windsor Police Chief Pam Mizuno told reporters on Sunday there had been 25 to 30 arrests and no one had been injured “as a result of police interaction”. Five vehicles were towed on Saturday and seven on Sunday.

“We are still working to restore traffic to the area and open the bridge,” she said. “Of course there will be notifications made once this happens, but we need to make sure we’ll be able to keep the traffic flowing, so we can’t open the bridge until we continue what we plan.”

In Facebook groups, Telegram channels and right-wing media, the Freedom Convoy in Canada continued to inspire protests around the world.

Across the Atlantic, demonstrators temporarily blocked the Champs-Élysées, a central artery of Paris, Saturday, despite a decree prohibiting them from entering the capital. Local media reported on Sunday morning that police had made at least 97 arrests.

In Wellington, New Zealand’s capital, people inspired by Canadian protesters blocked an area outside Parliament for the sixth day on Sunday, and officials attempted to use sprinklers and songs including ‘Baby Shark’ to broadcast the demonstration, to no avail.

Back in North America, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in Surrey, British Columbia, southeast of Vancouver, said sunday evening that four people have been arrested for “mischief” during protests near the Pacific Highway border crossing near Blaine, Washington. A police statement said “some of the vehicles and protesters who spent the night on Saturday have now packed up and left the area”, but the crossing remained closed, with law enforcement blockading the border area.

Some members of law enforcement and the military have come under scrutiny for allegedly supporting the protests. A branch of the Canadian Army Special Forces noted Sunday that two members accused of supporting the protests are being investigated and “are in the process of being released from the Canadian Armed Forces.”

“Canadian Special Operations Forces Command (CANSOFCOM) does not tolerate its members actively supporting and/or participating in causes that undermine the apolitical imperative associated with their duties,” said Major-General Steve Boivin, a group commander.

Ontario Provincial Police also say sunday that they are investigating a video from Saturday that “raised professionalism concerns”, which has been widely interpreted as a reference to a clip on social media with the hashtag #freedomconvoy2022. The video appeared to show an officer telling people he pulled over: ‘I’m with you 100%,’ according to CTV News.

The military previously said it was investigating a member who spoke out against vaccination warrants in a video and told other military and police to “stand up” against “medical tyranny”.

Meanwhile, the counter-demonstrations multiplied.

On Friday, the City of Ottawa, responding to frustrated residents, filed an injunction against demonstrators violating municipal regulations.

For the second day in a row on Sunday, counter-protests erupted in Ottawa, where residents braved freezing temperatures to block two major intersections about four miles from Parliament Hill to keep out dozens of vehicles – mostly pickup trucks – to join the downtown demonstration.

Frustrated residents chanted “Whose streets are they? Our streets” and “Go home!

The message on one man’s sign was simple: “Make Ottawa boring again.

Timsit reported from London and Pietsch from Seoul. Hannah Knowles and Claire Parker in Washington contributed to this report.

About Jimmie T.

Check Also

Man Utd Women’s midfielders and forwards ahead of new WSL season

ADRIANA LEON Joining from West Ham United in July, Another striking option for Skinner to …