46 arrested in Canada near Detroit at border crossing protests

Most were charged with criminal mischief related to a week-long demonstration that blocked one of the busiest U.S.-Canada crossings

By Charles E. Ramirez
The Detroit News

WINDSOR, Ontario — More than 45 people in Windsor were arrested in connection with demonstrations near the Ambassador Bridge over seven days, Windsor officials said Tuesday.

The news came a little more than a day after the bridge officially reopened following a week-long protest against Canada's COVID-19 restrictions and trucker vaccine mandate. On Friday, a Canadian court issued an injunction against the protesters who blocked bridge traffic, and authorities started making arrests and towing vehicles over the weekend.

Officials with the Windsor Police Service said Tuesday 46 arrests were made since the protest started on Feb. 7 with 90 charges filed against demonstrators. They also said 37 vehicles blocking the roadways near the bridge were seized since the protest's onset.

The police said 43 people have been charged with breaching a court order and 43 have been charged with mischief over $5,000.

Four people face other charges, including a count of dangerous driving and one for obstructing justice.

"There will be continued police presence in the demonstration area to ensure public safety," Windsor police said in a statement. "There will be zero tolerance for any unlawful activity. There are ongoing investigations into the protesters' activity."

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The protesters and blockade had stopped travel across the bridge and forced some auto plants to curtail production. The Ambassador Bridge had been closed to traffic since the evening of Feb. 7, when a protest at the Capitol in Ottawa moved to other cities across Canada and to the trade thoroughfare connecting the country to Detroit. Some lanes opened from Canada to the U.S. midweek, but all travel into Canada from Detroit was stopped until Sunday.

The East Lansing-based Anderson Economic Group estimated Monday the blockade resulted in a $300 million loss to automakers, including lost wages of $145 million, mostly in Michigan and Ontario.

"Only some of that lost production can be made up given the tightness of the auto industry's supply chain right now, so these are real losses to the men and women working in this industry," Anderson Economic Group Principal and CEO Patrick Anderson said.

The Ambassador Bridge is the conduit of 25% of all trade between the U.S. and Canada. Around 10,000 commercial vehicles cross the bridge every day with $325 million of goods, the Michigan Treasury Department estimated Friday. Around $50 million of that are auto parts.

The impact of the blockade will linger. Auto production will still be affected as automakers and their suppliers scramble to get parts to plants on time this week. The border blockade is another supply chain hit on top of several the automakers have had to battle through in the last year.

(c)2022 The Detroit News

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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