Multiple border crossings between the United States and Canada have been blocked by protesters that object to vaccine mandates. One blockage on a vital crossing between Ontario and Detroit has caused automakers in the area to slow or pause the production of vehicles on both sides of the border. Now, a judge from the Ontario Superior Court has ordered the protesters to leave and given the authorities the legal right to arrest those who don’t comply.
Chief Justice Geoffrey Morawetz said that protesters would have until 7 p.m. to leave the area and police made it clear that not only could arrests take place but that vehicles could also be impounded. That’s a dramatic shift from the literal stand-still that’s been occurring over the last few days. The border crossing in question accounts for roughly a quarter of the total trade between the two nations.
Despite those huge stakes, the protesters were allowed to continue their demonstration largely unchallenged until earlier Friday when Ontario Premier Doug Ford declared a state of emergency and declared the protest an illegal occupation. That move laid the groundwork for Ford and local government officials to enact orders that would force the border open.
Despite that effort, it still took a four-and-a-half-hour meeting to come to the final decision. The AP News reported that protesters argued that they were peacefully protesting while both city officials and lawyers for auto parts makers argued that the blockade was causing undue economic harm. There’s no question that the impact has been far greater than just a few small businesses too.
General Motors, Honda, Toyota, and Ford have all been affected and it sounds like they’re finally going to be able to breathe a little easier. Doug Ford made it clear that one way or another, he was going to make blocking the border any longer a losing proposal by promising to convene a cabinet on Saturday to enact more measures to deter the protest.
“There will be consequences for these actions, and they will be severe… violators will face up to a year in prison and a maximum fine of $100,000,” Ford said. “This is a pivotal, pivotal moment for our nation.” Now we wait to see how the protesters will react to this information and if similar demonstrations will pop up on the United States side of the border.