The Canadian Freedom Convoy shut down the Canadian side of the Ambassador Bridge Monday night vowing to keep the critical border crossing closed until their various demands are met. It remains closed as of Tuesday morning. The span between Windsor and Detroit is responsible for roughly 27 percent of all trade between the U.S. and Canada, America’s second largest trading partner.
Updated Tuesday, February 8, 2022 8:50 a.m. EST - Windsor police posted on Twitter that traffic bound for the U.S. is reopened, however, they warn that traffic is still very backed up. The government-run website listing wait times to traverse the bridge is still showing lanes bound for Canada from the U.S. temporarily closed as of 8 a.m. Tuesday morning.
This is all to say this the craziness in Canada is certainly getting serious, but the Canadians may have messed with a force greater than conspiracy theory: An American billionaire, who will lose $50 million a day on crossing fees should this shutdown continue.
Miles of semi trucks stuck on the American side of the bridge are backing up on I-75 in Detroit. Unable to cross into Windsor, Ontario, the trucks are forming a depressing conga line through Detroit. While there is a second crossing through downtown Detroit via the Detroit-Windsor tunnel, large trucks are unable to pass through. The closest alternative route to get to Canada from the U.S. now is the the Blue Water Bridge, which stretches between Sarnia, Ontario, and Port Huron, Michigan. The trip adds an hour of drive time to Port Huron, plus several more hours to drive through Ontario and back to major arteries of trade.
The protest convoy started its drive across the country from Vancouver last month, picking up more trucks and supporters before it seized Canada’s capital city of Ottawa as well as another important border crossing in Coutts, Alberta. Protesters have made life for residents unbearable for almost two weeks now, and their actions have hurt their fellow truckers who get stuck on the U.S. side of the border. As we learned from the Coutts, Alberta closure, these unexpected extra fuel costs and delays will be shouldered by protesters’ fellow truckers. Fox 2 in Detroit caught up with some of the drivers stuck on this side of the bridge:
“Can’t get upset,” said one of the truckers. “I’m not the only guy stuck out here. Fortunately, I do have a sleeper cabin. I feel bad for those drivers that don’t have that option.”
With the bridge shut down, the piles of backup started popping up along I-75 and the service drive.
“It doesn’t make sense as they shouldn’t be blocking the borders or the roads,” said Canadian truck driver Nav Aulch.
“I’m triple vaccinated, and I’m pro-vaccine, but I’m anti-mandate,” said Paul Leland. “It’s time that the mandates are over. It’s time that the people travel freely across the border on both sides.”
“I can understand people fighting for certain rights, but this is not going to solve anything,” said the truck driver.
This closure, should it go on as long as the Ottawa siege, could have major shockwaves in the automotive industry, as supply chains are already pulled tight due to the semiconductor shortage and other global shipping snafus. Ford’s Assembly plant in Oakville, Ontario, for instance, builds the Ford Edge and Lincoln Nautilus.
I have doubts that this closure will go on that long, however. The Ambassador Bridge is the only privately owned border crossing in North America as well as the busiest between our two nations. The Maroun family has owned a controlling stake in the bridge since 1979, buying out Warren Buffet of his 25 percent controlling stake in the bridge. The Ambassador is a cash cow for the Maroun family, which is known for fighting for what it wants tooth and nail and not particularly caring who gets caught in the crossfire. I wonder how long before the powerful and rich family puts pressure on officials to defend their capital. Many of the protesters are steeped in conspiracy theory and believe a cabal of shadowy characters are pulling the strings in our society. Just wait until they find out they are right.
This story is evolving and we will update as we learn more.