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Canadian officials are done talking.
Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens is seeking a court order on Friday to authorize him to forcibly remove protesters from the Ambassador Bridge.
“The individuals on site are trespassing on municipal property and, if need be, will be removed to allow for the safe and efficient movement of goods across the border,” Dilkens said at a news conference.
Also on Friday, Ontario Premier Doug Ford declared a state of emergency and pledged to fine and jail protesters who don’t leave the Ambassador Bridge, where a blockade has disrupted international traffic for five days and forced some Michigan automakers to shut down shifts.
For those who defy the order, “there will be consequences, and they will be severe,” Ford said.
“Your right to make a political statement does not outweigh the right of thousands of workers to make a living,” he said, adding, “I will convene cabinet to use legal authorities to urgently enact orders that will make crystal clear it is illegal and punishable to block and impede the movement of goods, people and services along critical infrastructure. This will include protecting international border crossings, 400-series highways, airports, ports, bridges and railways.”
Ford also said protesters who defy the orders will lose their personal or commercial drivers licenses.
"Make no mistake: this is a pivotal moment for our nation,” Ford said. “The eyes of the world are upon us right now, and what they're seeing is not who we are. We must collectively draw a line. We must stand for the values that define us."
On Thursday, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer demanded an end to the blockade
as it continued to disrupt international supply chains. Some automakers have cut shifts and even shut down plants.
“My message is simple: reopen traffic on the bridge,” Whitmer said in a statement. “The blockade is having a significant impact on Michigan’s working families who are just trying to do their jobs. Our communities and automative, manufacturing, and agricultural businesses are feeling the effects. It’s hitting paychecks and production lines. That is unacceptable.”
As a result of the blockade, Michigan auto workers may lose up to $51 million in wages, according to the Anderson Economic Group.
"This is a serious disruption with significant human impacts," Patrick Anderson, CEO of Anderson Economic Group, told CNN. "With the industry already short-handed and production lines awaiting parts, any further interruption is very costly."
Despite what’s at stake for workers, many Michigan Republicans are showing support for the protesters. Gubernatorial candidates Kevin Rinke
and Garrett Soldano
have released videos in support of the blockade, and Tudor Dixon
and Mike Brown
have tweeted in favor of the shutdown.
Former Police Chief James Craig, who is also running for governor as a Republican, said in statement Friday, "I stand with the truckers."
The Republican Governors Association was less sympathetic and managed to blame Whitmer.
“Michigan families and businesses of all sizes are feeling the pinch of Gretchen Whitmer’s inaction as billions of dollars in trade between Michigan and Ontario have been held up in protest of Joe Biden’s and Justin Trudeau’s vaccine mandates,” RGA Spokesman Chris Gustafson said. “Whitmer must work with Biden and repair her relationship with Trudeau, to ease the burden on Michigan businesses, and put an end to the shutdowns that have been brought on by out of touch federal mandates.”
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