A state of emergency has been declared.
The blockade of the Ambassador Bridge connecting America and Canada by angry Canadian truck drivers and others opposed to the country's coronavirus vaccine mandate continues with little end in sight. The "Freedom Convoy" refuses to budge over its demand to end the mandate, leaving government officials no choice but to take more serious actions.
"It's an illegal occupation," Ontario Premier Doug Ford told reporters after he declared a state of emergency on Friday morning. "This is no longer a protest." He asked for protestors to return home. If not, heavy fines of up to $100,000 CAD and up to a year in jail will begin. It's illegal and punishable to block and impede the movement of goods, people, and other services along major infrastructure like the Ambassador Bridge.
Automakers in particular are feeling the supply crunch for the past five days. Stellantis' Windsor Assembly Plant, where the Chrysler Pacifica and Voyager are built, is suffering from shortened shifts due to a lack of supplies. Ford and Toyota are also having difficulties. Toyota confirmed it will suspend production at plants in Ontario and Kentucky through Saturday. Honda announced it's also suspending production on one line at its Alliston, Ontario plant.
For now, GM claims things are still moving as normal at its Spring Hill plant, home of the Cadillac XT5, XT6, and GMC Acadia. Back in the US, meanwhile, government officials are becoming increasingly concerned.
"In Michigan, our economic momentum is at risk because commercial traffic is at a standstill at the Ambassador Bridge and heavily backed up at the Blue Water Bridge," Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer said earlier Friday. "I'm continuing to take action to ensure Michigan workers and families are supported."
The latest on the ground updates indicates protestors have allowed a single lane of bridge traffic to open. This does not necessarily mean it's flowing at a regular pace but it could be the beginning of a negotiated settlement. Automakers simply cannot afford for this blockade to continue for another week given their existing transportation methods. Ford, for example, is reportedly exploring the possibility of transporting goods by air instead.