WINDSOR, Ontario – The Canadian province of Ontario declared a state of emergency on Friday, and Premier Doug Ford threatened with fines and prison terms as a result of anti-vaccine protests that have sharply cut US-Canada trade and disrupted production by automakers.
Canadian truckers’ “Liberty Convoy” opposes mandatory vaccination or quarantine for cross-border motorists, mirroring a similar US demand, starting with occupation Ottawa, the capital city of Canada. Truckers then blocked the Ambassador Bridge earlier this week, and closed two other smaller border crossings.
Despite the protests, a Canadian trucking The trade group says that 90 percent of drivers are vaccinated.
The closure of the bridge, North America’s busiest international border and a major supply route for Detroit’s automakers, has brought some auto production to a halt and prompted officials to seek to limit economic damage.
Canada sends 75% of its exports to the United States, and the bridge typically handles 8,000 trucks a day, accounting for a quarter of total cross-border trade, or about 500 million Canadian dollars (392.56). million US dollars) per day.
About $100 million Canadian auto parts cross the border every day, with many timed shipments arriving just when manufacturers need them.
Toyota said Friday the disruption has affected production at its engine plants in West Virginia and Alabama. The shortage affects Toyota’s production of RAV4 – the best-selling non-truck in the United States, camry, Avalon, Lexus RX and Lexus EScar manufacturer said.
“We expect disruption throughout the weekend and we will continue to make adjustments as needed,” Toyota said. Japan’s largest automaker on Thursday said it would suspend production at plants in Ontario and Kentucky through the end of Saturday because of parts shortages related to the protests.
General Motors, which halted work at an auto plant in Michigan on Thursday because of border issues, said Friday that all plants are operating as scheduled. It was forced to stop production Thursday at a factory in Michigan, where it builds sport utility vehicle after the protests. America’s largest automaker said it canceled one shift on Wednesday and two on Thursday at its Lansing Delta Township plant.
Shilpan Amin, GM’s The vice president, global procurement and supply chain, told suppliers that “although we may experience intermittent disruptions, we intend to keep production and supply Current schedule at all of our manufacturing operations in the US, Canada and Mexico.” GM has “encouraged suppliers to evaluate your maintenance alternatives to meet our production schedule.”
Ford said it is operating plants in Windsor and Oakville, another Canadian city, at reduced capacity. It added that it hoped for a quick resolution “as it could have a broad impact on all automakers in the US and Canada.” Ford is considering bringing some auto parts to Windsor, where it makes engines for popular models, a union official said.
Stellantis said some U.S. and Canadian factories cut shifts on Thursday after multiple shifts cut short Wednesday night “due to a shortage of parts caused by the Detroit/Windsor bridge closure.” Stellantis said the situation, “combined with already fragile supply chains, will add to the hardship for people and industries still struggling to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Honda’s motobike said the Alliston, Ont., plant halted production on a production line Wednesday night due to border delays but is back up and running.
And auto parts maker Magna International said on Friday the disruption at the bridge had forced some customers to take time off or cut production requirements. Magna CEO Swamy Kotagiri discussed the situation during an earnings call.
“If the standoff lingers longer, it could affect major Canadian suppliers like Magna and Linamar Corp, and it could hurt business,” said Sam Fiorani, vice president of AutoForecast Solutions LLC. Magna’s earnings for the (current) quarter”.
U.S.-listed Magna shares fell nearly 4.3% to $77.42, while its Toronto shares fell 4.4% to C$98.50.
The protests have put additional pressure on the North American auto industry, which is grappling with fragile supply chains and global chip shortage that has ravaged production since the pandemic broke out. Chief Executive Officer Magna Kotagiri warned of continued semiconductor supply constraints that will hit production in 2022 during his earnings call. However, the company expects semiconductor availability to have a more significant impact on production in the first half of this year.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford declared a state of emergency Friday in response to truck blockades in Ottawa and the U.S. border, and said he would urgently enact legislation to crack down on traffickers. impede the free flow of goods and people.
Since Monday, numerous motorists protesting Canada’s COVID-19 restrictions and venting rage against Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau have damaged the Ambassador Bridge connecting Windsor, Ontario, with Detroit , disrupting the auto industry on both sides of the border. And hundreds of other trucks have paralyzed downtown Ottawa over the past two weeks.
Ford said he will convene the provincial cabinet on Saturday to issue orders making it “clear” that it is illegal to block critical infrastructure.
“Let me be as clear as possible – there will be consequences for these actions and they will be very serious,” he said. “This is an important moment, of great significance for our nation.”
Ford said violators would face one year in prison and a maximum fine of $100,000. The orders will also provide additional authority to “consider stripping the personal and commercial licenses of anyone who fails to comply,” according to his office.
Separately, the mayor of Windsor planned to apply for an order Friday afternoon to try to break the blockade of the bridge.
Federal, provincial and local authorities have been hesitant to forcibly remove protesters calling themselves the Freedom Convoy there and elsewhere around the country, a clear reflection of a lack of local police resources, Canada’s respect for free speech, and fear of violence. Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens warned earlier this week that some truckers were “ready to die”.
But political pressure to reopen the bridge appears to be growing along with the economic damage. The Biden administration has urged Trudeau’s government to use its federal powers to end the blockade, and the Michigan governor has also called for a swift resolution of the impasse.
“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.”
In addition to Ottawa being occupied again and again, protesters have now closed all three border crossings: at Windsor; in Coutts, Alberta, across from Montana; and at Emerson, Manitoba, across from North Dakota.
“We are now in the siege of Ottawa for two weeks,” said Ford. “It is an illegal occupation. It is no longer a protest.”
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.
Who is responsible?
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 staffing of 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. Canada’s emergency preparedness minister this week said Ontario has ultimate responsibility, while the province’s transport minister said it was the federal government’s duty to secure the border.
In addition, the leadership of the opposition Conservative Party at the federal level has openly supported truckers, seemingly happy to address Trudeau’s issue. Ford, Ontario’s Conservative prime minister, admitted that he was at his cottage last weekend, skiing. He said he was receiving calls about the siege.
“The problem is 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.”
Wiseman said the Canadian military should have been called in after a week of Ottawa’s stalemate.
“The reluctance of federal authorities to act decisively has encouraged occupiers and copycats of the occupation,” he said, “I believe Ottawa will be forced to use the military.”
Protests have also spread outside of Canada. Protesters angered by pandemic restrictions drove to Paris in scattered convoys camping truckcars and trucks on Friday in an attempt to blockade the French capital, despite 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 State’s address by March.
Canada’s COVID Response Worked
While Canadian protesters are decrying truckers’ vaccine regulations and other COVID-19 restrictions, many of the country’s infection measures were quickly lifted as omicron levels rose. mutation.
Trudeau continues to stand firm against lifting vaccine mandates. The prime minister has called the protesters an “infidels” who believe in conspiracy theories and wear “tin paper hats”. It just makes them more emotional.
Pandemic restrictions in Canada are much stricter than in the US, but most Canadians have supported them. The vast majority of Canadians are vaccinated, and the death rate from COVID-19 per 100,000 people is one-third that of the United States. Canada lacked hospital capacity, so the provinces quickly imposed closures when the waves hit.
Includes material from AP.