Negotiations ongoing to end Ambassador Bridge protest

Protesters+against+vaccine+mandates+gathered+to+block+the+Ambassador+Bridge.+On+Friday+morning%2C+demonstrators+allowed+a+single+lane+to+open.+

Photo courtesy of Matthew Hatcher

Protesters against vaccine mandates gathered to block the Ambassador Bridge. On Friday morning, demonstrators allowed a single lane to open.

Arianna Heyman, Features Editor

After days of protesting, demonstrators allowed a single lane to open on the Ambassador Bridge Friday morning. The protestors said it was a sign of “good faith” and a signal that they are looking for a peaceful resolution to the current conflict. 

This conflict started last month when the Canadian government implemented a new rule which requires that all truckers must be vaccinated when crossing the U.S.-Canada border. 

Soon after, protestors who label themselves as a “freedom convoy” gathered at Parliament Hill in Ottawa to oppose these measures as well as broader pandemic restrictions in Canada. 

The protests which were centralized in the Canadian capital soon spread across the country and inevitably materialized in Windsor. The Windsor demonstrations which began on Feb. 7, have already caused economic problems for the U.S. and Canada. 

Per NPR: “The bridge, which connects Detroit to Windsor, Ontario, is the busiest land border crossing in North America in terms of trade volume. General Motors has canceled two shifts at Lansing Delta Township assembly in Michigan due to parts shortages, while Ford is running its plants in the Canadian cities of Windsor and Oakville at ‘reduced capacity.’”

An estimated $350 million in goods passes over the bridge each day, so ending the blockade is a top priority for both governments. 

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer reiterated the need for an end to the protest in a statement released on Feb. 10 stating, “it is imperative that the Canadian local, provincial and national governments de-escalate this economic blockade. They must take all the necessary and appropriate steps to immediately and safely reopen traffic so we can continue growing our economy, supporting good-paying jobs and lowering costs for families.” 

Since protests began, truckers have rerouted in order to utilize the Blue Water Bridge in Port Huron. However, the increased gridlock has caused delays of over four hours for commercial traffic, according to the Canadian government website. 

A peaceful resolution is what all are hoping to achieve, but with millions of dollars already lost due to protesting, Windsor officials are contemplating ending the demonstration with police force. Windsor police revealed in a tweet Thursday that they have also deployed “additional resources” from outside jurisdictions in order to support a peaceful resolution. 

As of Friday morning patience is wearing thin with Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens declaring, “a short time ago, Windsor City Council met and has authorized an injunction to be sought, from superior court, to bring about an end to this illegal occupation. The individuals onsite are trespassing on municipal property and, if need be, will be removed to allow for safe and efficient movement of goods across the border.” 

Ontario also declared a state of emergency with Premier Doug Ford stating, “Today, I’m using my authority as premier of Ontario to declare a state of emergency in our province, and I will convene cabinet to use legal authorities to urgently enact orders that will make crystal clear it is illegal and punishable to block and impede the movement of goods, people and services along critical infrastructure.” 

Both sides are hoping for an effective solution, but it is becoming increasingly apparent that with dwindling patience and pressure from the U.S. government, the protestors may be disbanded by force.