An Ontario judge granted an injunction Friday against protesters who have been blocking the Ambassador Bridge for five days, potentially opening a path to ending the international standoff.

The ruling went effect at 7 p.m. Friday night, just hours after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that “everything is on the table” to dissolve the blockade and restart traffic across the vital North American shipping route.

For now, Trudeau said officials will rely on local law enforcement to deal with protestors, who have shut down traffic at the busiest U.S.-Canada border crossing over a vaccine requirement for truckers entering the country.

“Using military forces against civilian populations in Canada, or in any other democracy, is something to avoid having to do at all costs,” Trudeau said. He added that the government is “a long way from having to call in the military” but that there will be “real consequences” for those involved in the blockade.

“We’re taking every precaution to keep people safe. But the absolute safest way for this to end is for everyone to return to your communities now.”

Virus Outbreak Canada Protests

On Friday, truckers and supporters block the access leading from the Ambassador Bridge, linking Detroit and Windsor, continuing their protest against COVID-19 vaccine mandates and restrictions, Nathan Denette/Associated Press

In the meantime, provincial and municipal leaders announced new steps Friday to resume the flow of traffic across the border. Ontario officials plan to enact temporary orders that will fine protesters blocking the Ambassador Bridge up to $100,000 and sentence them to up to a year in jail, said Ontario Premier Doug Ford. They will also consider taking away the personal or commercial drivers licenses of anyone who defies the orders.


The orders will clarify that blocking the movement of “goods, people and services across critical infrastructure” is illegal, Ford said, including border crossings, airports, bridges, highways and railways.

“To those trying to force a political agenda through disruption, intimidation and chaos, my message to you is this: Your right to make a political statement does not outweigh the right of hundreds of thousands of workers to earn their living.”

Ford begged the protesters to leave and declared a state of emergency. He said an Ontario Court granted his administration’s request to freeze funds flowing to the protesters and the police have provided additional resources to backup law enforcement in Ottawa and Windsor.

Meanwhile, hospitals in Windsor confirmed they are on standby should police “or another emergency response agency” initiate “a Code Orange, which is called in the rare case of a disaster or mass casualty situation,” the Windsor Star reported.

And an automotive supply group and the City of Windsor went to court Friday over the bridge blockade caused by groups protesting the country’s COVID-19 restrictions, arguing the protests break multiple laws and an injunction is necessary to enhance enforcement.

The United States also has a vaccine requirement for freight truckers delivering goods across the border.


The Ambassador Bridge has been blocked to traffic since Monday evening, when a protest at the Capitol in Ottawa moved to other cities across the country and to the trade thoroughfare connecting Canada to Detroit.

Officials continued to reroute commercial traffic to the Blue Water Bridge in Port Huron, where they say nine commercial lanes are open, and to the Windsor tunnel for smaller passenger traffic.

The Michigan Department of Transportation tweeted at 4 p.m. that wait times at Blue Water heading into the U.S. and heading into Canada were less than 15 minutes for passenger and commercial vehicles. Wait times heading into Canada from the U.S. were less than 15 minutes for cars and more than 90 minutes for commercial vehicles. In previous days during the Ambassador Bridge blockade, truckers waited hours at Blue Water.

Windsor Police said Friday that the bridge remained blocked throughout the day as negotiations continued with the protesters, who have remained peaceful. But the blockade has caused major economic strain for automakers and other manufacturers already struggling with supply chain woes.

The Ambassador Bridge is the conduit of 25 percent of all trade between the two countries and is of particular importance to the North American auto industry. Around 10,000 commercial vehicles cross the bridge every day with $325 million of goods, the Michigan Treasury Department estimated Friday. Around $50 million of that are auto parts.

It’s drawn the attention of both nation’s highest officeholders. Trudeau and President Joe Biden spoke about the standoff Friday. The prime minister promised quick action in enforcing the law and the president thanked him for the steps he and other Canadian authorities are taking to restore the open passage of bridges to the United States, said White House White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki.


“The Biden Administration has continued its work overnight and engaged in productive conversations with our Canadian counterparts over the last 24 hours to bring the blockade at the Ambassador Bridge and other ports of entry to a swift and peaceful end,” a White House official told The Detroit News Friday. “We feel confident that at the municipal, provincial and federal level, Canada appreciates the urgency required to take action.”

As the standoff entered its fifth day, automakers reported additional production impacts — the latest in a series of shocks delivered by the collateral effects of the global COVID-19 pandemic.

Toyota Motor North America said Friday that it’s now having periodic downtime at its engine plants in West Virginia and Alabama: “Due to a number of supply chain, severe weather and COVID related challenges, Toyota continues to face shortages affecting production at our North American plants,” Toyota spokesperson Kelly Stefanich said in a statement.

Toyota plants in Canada and Kentucky had previously been impacted. The Japanese automaker said it expects disruptions to continue through the weekend, “and we’ll continue to make adjustments as needed.” It does not expect the situation to result in employment impacts at this time.

Workers at General Motors Co.’s CAMI Assembly plant in Ingersoll, Ontario, home of the Chevrolet Equinox, were sent home early Friday as a result of parts shortages. But GM’s U.S. plants that had seen production cuts due to the blockade earlier this week are back up and running.

The Detroit automaker on Thursday canceled the first and second shifts at its Lansing Delta Township Plant, where the Buick Enclave and Chevrolet Traverse SUVs are made. GM confirmed Friday that production of heavy-duty trucks at Flint Assembly Plant was interrupted as a result of parts shortages. However, many employees are completing training requirements so they are still working.


Ford Motor Co. spokeswoman Kelli Felker said Friday its plants in Oakville and Windsor are running at “reduced capacity” and its Ohio Assembly Plant is down “as a result of a parts shortage associated with this situation.” The Ford Oakville plant builds the Ford Edge and Lincoln Nautilus, Windsor builds engines and Ohio Assembly makes medium and super trucks.

“The interruption on the Detroit/Windsor bridge hurts customers, auto workers, suppliers, communities and companies on both sides of the border that are already two years into parts shortages resulting from the global semiconductor issue, COVID and more,” she said.

Stellantis NV also had to adjust production schedules Thursday because of the situation at the border. Honda Motor Co. Ltd.’s plant in Alliston, Ontario, suspended manufacturing on one production line Wednesday evening. The automaker also will temporarily suspend manufacturing on one production line on the Friday day shift there.

“Stellantis continues to make production adjustments as necessary due to parts shortages caused by the closure of the Detroit/Windsor bridge,” spokesperson Jodi Tinson. “Although the situation remains incredibly fluid, our teams are working around the clock to keep parts flowing into the plants to mitigate further disruptions.”

John Bozzella, CEO of the Alliance for Automotive Innovation which represents most major automakers building vehicles in the U.S., said the group will “continue to work with policymakers and stakeholders in the U.S. and Canada to advocate for a swift and safe resolution on behalf of our employees, consumers and communities.”

Move to end blockade


The City of Windsor on Thursday sought an injunction, which would give the police more power to end the blockade that has snarled international trade between Canada and the U.S. since Monday, resulting in manufacturing production cuts on both sides of the border.

Now led by the Automotive Parts Manufacturers’ Association, attorneys seeking to shut down the protest argued the protesters are breaking multiple municipal laws.

Mike Wills, the lawyer for the APMA, also said that the economic impact of the blockade is significant: The auto sector contributed around $12.5 billion to the Canadian GDP in 2020, he said, and vehicles are the second-largest Canadian export by value at $42.9 billion.

More than 90 percent of that was exported to the U.S., and American auto states like Michigan buy around $50 million worth of auto parts every day from Canadian companies, he said.

“No (auto plants are) sitting on thousands of parts so they can operate for weeks and weeks,” Wills said. “A shutdown of a day or two is catastrophic for continued operations, and it’s proving to be catastrophic.”

Attorneys defending the blockage argued that some disruption is a natural and protected side effect of protests and that there’s no need for an injunction if police already have the power to intervene.


“Courts in this country have held that demonstrations and picketing, by their very nature, are supposed to cause some degree of nuisance,” said attorney Antoine D’Ailly. “That is part and parcel of the right to freedom of expression and the right to freedom of assembly here.”

The judge issued the injunction Friday afternoon, saying that while people have the right to protest, their blockade of the bridge has resulted in the denial of freedom to others.

Dana Wolfe, 36, of Windsor said he showed up Friday to protest “government tyranny” in Canada. He said he works as a maintenance electrician at an automotive plant, but declined to identify his employer. Wolfe — a father and stepfather of three children — pointed to mask mandates, especially in schools, as something he’s against.

“The middle class in this country believes that the political elite don’t really care about us,” he said. “They care more about people that can work on Zoom.”

Wolfe said he wasn’t concerned about the blockade’s impact on auto plants: “I believe that a couple days laid off, a week laid off, two weeks laid off, isn’t a really big deal when you’re looking at the big scheme of things here. I think freedom and freedom of choice is a lot more important, and to stop government tyranny is a lot more important than missing a week of work.”

Eyes on Windsor


The protests have drawn the attention of policymakers at the state and national level in the United States. Biden and Trudeau had a call Friday, according to White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki, who said they discussed the ongoing blockade of key bridges and crossings between the United States and Canada, including Detroit-Windsor.

The prime minister promised quick action in enforcing the law, and the president thanked him for the steps he and other Canadian authorities are taking to restore the open passage of bridges to the United States, Psaki said.

Trudeau said during a press conference Friday that he and Biden “both agree that for the security of the people and the economy, these blockades cannot continue.”

Trudeau said “everything is on the table” to stop the border blockades. But Trudeau, out of concern of violence, wouldn’t provide specifics on what’s under consideration. He said the focus is on using police forces before the military gets involved.

“Using military forces against civilian populations in Canada, or in any other democracy, is something to avoid having to do at all costs,” he said, but noted there will be “real consequences” for those involved in the blockade.

“We’re taking every precaution to keep people safe. But the absolute safest way for this to end is for everyone to return to your communities now,” he said. “If you’re still participating in illegal blockades, you’re hurting your neighbors.”


Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has called on Canadian authorities to resolve the dispute at the border crossing and offered heavy equipment, security and other resources to assist in ending the blockade. And the Biden administration has urged Trudeau’s government to use its federal powers to end the blockade.

More than a quarter of all trade between the U.S. and Canada moves over the Ambassador Bridge. Since Monday, a group of protesters known as the Freedom Convoy has prevented travel into Canada, forcing drivers to reroute to the Blue Water Bridge in Port Huron, resulting in delays for commercial travelers.

Whitmer appeared on WXYZ-TV (Ch. 7) and CNN Friday morning, where she reiterated her call to Canadian officials to “take all appropriate steps” to reopen traffic at the border.

She said the blockade has contributed to “hundreds of millions of dollars a day” being lost and said she’s been “burning up the phone line” talking with the White House, the Canadian ambassador, other Canadian officials and the congressional delegation to end the blockage.

“We have got to push to resolve this and it has to be swift,” she said. “Of course, we want it to be safely done as well. But it has to happen. We cannot let another minute go by unnecessarily because this border is too important to our economy, to our homeland security, and as we grow our economy, it’s a crucial moment.”

The Michigan Department of Treasury estimates that 10,000 commercial vehicles cross the bridge each day, carrying $325 million of goods, approximately $50 million from automotive parts. Nearly 30 percent of the annual trade between Michigan and Canada comes across the Ambassador Bridge.


Some Michigan Republicans said they support the protesters, who are challenging the vaccine requirement and other COVID restrictions. Former Detroit Police Chief James Craig, a Republican who is running to unseat Whitmer as governor, criticized Whitmer and Biden Friday for “demonizing the truckers.”

“I stand with the truckers,” Craig said. “I support all working people who are standing up for personal freedom. “What we are seeing is a tremendous lack of leadership from Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, President Joe Biden and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.”

U.S. Rep. Lisa McClain, R-Bruce Township, whose district is home to the Blue Water Bridge where traffic is being re-routed, wrote on Twitter: “Vaccine mandates are going to cripple our supply chain. The Democrats can blame freedom loving truck drivers, but the real blame is on the vaccine requirements at the border.”

Her office said Friday she plans to send a letter to the Biden Administration demanding they remove the U.S. vaccine requirement for truckers.

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