Sleiman Iskandar, a 28-year-old contractor, parked his truck this Saturday, blocking the path on the international bridge that connects Windsor on the Canadian side with Detroit in the US. Dozens of cars and a couple of trucks were left standing in front of them, which have been blocking traffic for six days in protest against the mandatory vaccination of drivers of commercial vehicles when traveling across the border. A local policeman approached Iskandar’s window and told him: “The game is over, you have to move.” The young man obeyed. He didn’t want to be “captured”. As he began to move economically in his car, which served him as a refuge during the last cold nights, the agent returned. “Hey, are you driving so slowly because this shit can’t move anymore?” he asked Iskandar. And they both laughed. This is how the Canadian conflict is resolved, although it is not over yet.
Canadian police have peacefully evicted drivers who had been blockading Ambassador Bridge, one of the busiest union routes between the two countries, for days. After the cars were moved, hundreds of demonstrators continued to protest against the sanitary mandate. Early on Sunday morning, several protesters were still blocking the road leading to the bridge and a large number of police. Windsor Deputy Chief of Police Jason Beller assured this Saturday that while they have managed to unload the passage, it is not yet clear when the trade axis will reopen.
A trucker uprising over Canada’s Jan. 15 sanitary measures has strained relations between Justin Trudeau’s government and that of Joe Biden, who has watched the blockade’s millionaire consequences with dismay. More than 25% of bilateral trade passes through it. Every day, between 8,000 and 10,000 trucks transport $300 million worth of goods (about 264 million euros).
One of the industries most affected by freedom caravan, Formed in this quiet town by no more than 10 trucks, dozens of vans and hundreds of protesters, it was the car company that was forced to scale back production and send employees from both sides of the border home. Anti-vaccination activists in this corner of Ontario staged a high-profile rally. spin off from mother protest, which for 15 days blockaded Ottawa, the capital of Canada, and has already been repeated in places such as France, the Netherlands or New Zealand. The US Department of Homeland Security fears that such a protest would spoil the massive Super Bowl party this Sunday in Los Angeles.
With the thermometer stuck at 6 degrees below zero and lashing with relentless snow, dozens of protesters surrendered at noon before police arrived. A couple of times they sang the anthem of Canada, moved me to tears. “I used to drive a truck until restrictions forced restaurants to close and my employer no longer needed me,” Daniel Dalriple, 54, said as he stood next to a quiet crowd asking police to get out of his way. “They are better than that. We love you, but…behave like Canadians,” they told the protesters. Most of them were not truckers, but opposed the sanitary restrictions.
After an Ontario court ruled to unblock a border bridge on Friday, police approached the self-proclaimed freedom caravan handing out leaflets warning them that if they don’t move, they face legal consequences. That night, from Friday to Saturday, there was music and dancing. In the morning, the car park on the bridge was reduced. Those who persisted did so, motivated by their stated desire to “reclaim their freedom.” Between beeps and shouts, they gave in without registering episodes of violence or arrests.
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Among the Canadian flags hung on trucks and waved by protesters, one of the 2024 Trumps appeared. “He’s great, we need him here,” said the 22-year-old construction worker, who asked not to be named. He also took the opportunity to leave a warning: “Just because we’re leaving doesn’t mean it’s over. We’re not done yet.” Nasir, 28, shares this vision: “We are going to continue. This will only end when they lift the mandatory vaccination mandate. Many people came to this country to be free, and this is not happening now. They need to get vaccinated to get on with their lives and make sure they can feed their family,” he adds. A sticker on his truck window read:Fuck Trudeau.
Local police said this Saturday that they have arrested 26 people and issued more than 2,600 protest-related fines. Ottawa Police Chief Peter Sloli admitted his officers were tired and needed support. “We will provide [la ley] as far as our resources allow,” he said on Friday.
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