Canadian lawmakers expressed increasing worry Tuesday about the economic effects of disruptive demonstrations after the busiest border crossing between the U.S. and Canada became partially blocked by truckers protesting vaccine mandates and other COVID-19 restrictions.
The blockade at the Ambassador Bridge between Detroit and Windsor, Ontario, prevented traffic from entering Canada, while some U.S.-bound traffic was still moving, Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino said, calling the bridge "one of the most important border crossings in the world." It carries 25% of all trade between Canada and the United States.
Canadian Transport Minister Omar Alghabra said such blockades will have serious implications on the economy and supply chains. "I've already heard from automakers and food grocers. This is really a serious cause for concern," he said in Ottawa, the capital.
Auto parts and other goods were still flowing across the border Tuesday evening, despite the bridge delays. But trucks had to travel almost 70 miles north to the Blue Water Bridge connecting Sarnia, Ontario, to Port Huron, Michigan. Authorities at that bridge reported a nearly three-hour delay for trucks to cross. In total, the trip will take more than five hours longer than normal.
The daily demonstrations staged by the so-called Freedom Truck Convoy are centered in Ottawa, where demonstrators have used hundreds of parked trucks to paralyze parts of the capital for more than 10 days. Protesters have said they will not leave until all vaccine mandates and COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.
Protest organizers have been calling for weeks for the removal of Trudeau's government, although most of the restrictive measures were put in place by provincial governments.
Ottawa's city manager said all tow-truck companies on contract with the city have refused to haul away the big rigs.
Additional reporting by The Associated Press.