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Truckers' COVID vaccine protests spread globally as U.S. puts new pressure on Canada to end blockade

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Posted at 10:52 AM, Feb 11, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-11 12:56:42-05

The Biden administration is putting new pressure on Canada to end the trucker protests that are threatening U.S.-Canada border trade. Truckers have partially blocked the border crossing between the U.S. and Canada in protest over vaccine mandates and other COVID-19 restrictions.

The Ambassador Bridge in Detroit is responsible for more than $390 million in daily goods. The economic fallout is causing production disruptions for at least five major automakers and one estimate put lost wages for workers in Michigan alone at $51 million from just this week.

The route has been closed for five days and it is forcing truckers to drive to a different, smaller border crossing about two hours outside of Detroit.

"It doesn't take a lot to shut the bridge down," said Bruce Heyman, a former U.S. ambassador to Canada. "This moves from a legitimate, I think, protest over a vaccine mandate to now putting the economy and lives at risk."

Brian Hitchcock owns a trucking company outside Lansing, Michigan. He's parked trailers that would normally make daily runs between Detroit and Canada. It is 40% of his business—which he says was already struggling in part due to vaccine mandates.

"The mandate was affecting it anyways because we were having a shortage of drivers that were vaccinated, so we were falling behind every week. So, this just magnified it," Hitchcock said.

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer said she has been speaking to Canadian officials and is imploring that the issue is resolved.

The "freedom convoy" also continues to clog the streets of Ottawa and the protests have now spread globally— from a blockade outside the New Zealand parliament to a trucker convoy making its way across France.

In the U.S., the Department of Homeland Security is now "surging staff" to their incident command post in Los Angeles following a warning about a possible trucker protest during Super Bowl Sunday. 

Canadian leaders from Justin Trudeau down are now calling these blockades illegal. The city of Windsor is seeking an injunction to order the protestors out. The Royal Canadian mounted police and provincial police are bringing in reinforcements.