Ambassador Bridge Reopens After Police Arrest Two Dozen Protesters And Seize 5 Vehicles

Ottawa and other border crossings still suffering under a siege of protesters

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Police gather to clear protestors against COVID-19 vaccine mandates who blocked the entrance to the Ambassador Bridge in Windsor, Ontario, Canada, on February 13, 2022. - Canadian police resumed operations Sunday to clear a key U.S. border bridge occupied by trucker-led demonstrators angry over COVID-19 restrictions, as authorities began making arrests in their bid to quell a movement that has also paralyzed downtown Ottawa.
Police gather to clear protestors against COVID-19 vaccine mandates who blocked the entrance to the Ambassador Bridge in Windsor, Ontario, Canada, on February 13, 2022. - Canadian police resumed operations Sunday to clear a key U.S. border bridge occupied by trucker-led demonstrators angry over COVID-19 restrictions, as authorities began making arrests in their bid to quell a movement that has also paralyzed downtown Ottawa.
Photo: JEFF KOWALSKY / AFP (Getty Images)

The Ambassador Bridge is once again carrying some 25 percent of trade between the U.S. and its largest trading partner, Canada, as of late Sunday evening after a full week of being closed to any traffic entering Canada.

Most protesters left Saturday after police convinced them arrest and having their vehicles seized wasn’t quite worth it. The rest, some two dozen, were taken into custody without incident late on Sunday along with five vehicles. The bridge opened after the protest was finally mopped up. The current status of the bridge shows no delays in either direction.

Over $500 million in trade makes its way across the Ambassador bridge every day. The seven-day shutdown’s economic effects in both countries will reverberate through all levels of industry, starting first with automakers and agricultural industries, according to Bloomberg:

The disruptions added costs to already elevated charges for freight between the U.S. and its largest trading partner. According to data from Truckstop.com, spot market rates for flatbed, refrigerated, and van categories rose between Jan. 2 and Feb. 5 for all loads going to and from Canada:

  • Van: a 39% jump to $3.90 per mile from $2.81
  • Reefer: a 33% climb to $4.77 from $3.59
  • Flatbed: a nearly 15% increase to $3.01 from $2.63

Compare those spikes with the moves in just the U.S. market, where van rates dropped 5%, reefer fell 9% and flatbed rose 4% over the same period, according to Truckstop.com.

“The disruptions created at the border is one in a long line of events that weighs on supply chains and is delaying it to return to normal — an event that more and more appears may not happen until 2023,” Bloomberg Intelligence senior logistics analyst Lee Klaskow said. “The supply chains are dying by a 1,000 cuts. The trucker incident will be focused to ag and autos, which would ripple out to other industries.”

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Canadian economists independent of Bloomberg told the paper that the border shutdowns will have ripple affects in the Canadian economy as well, crushing Canada’s fragile economic recovery and leading to possibly negative growth and even sharper inflation. The Ambassador Bridge wasn’t the only crossing shutdown due to protests. Multiple crossing remain closed. Royal Canadian Mounted Police disabled excavators and ticketed protesters at a small but vital border crossing between Montana and Alberta over the weekend, the CBC reports. Protesters closed a crossing connecting British Columbia to Washington along the Pacific Highway over the weekend, also according to the CBC.

The capital city of Ottawa remains in the grips of the trucker convoy, much to the chagrin of residents who organized counter protests over the weekend. One of the organizers of the now-defunct GoFundMe fundraiser for the Freedom Convoy and secretary of the right-wing Maverick Party, Tamara Lich, reportedly was working with Ottawa mayor Jim Watson, to move the truckers out of residential areas. However that report has been challenged by other protesters. It’s a reminder that the organizations at the protest are not a monolith and have very different ideas of what success for their movement looks like. Another organizer and a conspiracy theorist who thinks the COVID-19 vaccine was created to kill white people, Pat King, told truckers to hold the line, according to Ottawa Citizen:

Meanwhile, Pat King, one of the organizers of the protests, posted a video on Facebook Sunday night telling truckers not to move their vehicles from downtown, including residential areas, or leave Ottawa. “Hold the line,” King said repeatedly in the video, titled “Nobody move.”

King said the letter to Mayor Jim Watson from Tamara Lich, the president of a group called Freedom Convoy 2022, was a “lie” and a “false flag.”

Lich’s letter said her group planned to consolidate the protest around Parliament Hill and move trucks away from residential areas, and was working to “get buy in from truckers.”

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The Ottawa protest took over the city on Jan. 28, and is now starting its third week. Public libraries, city hall services and downtown grocery stores remain closed.