WINDSOR, Ontario/WASHINGTON, Feb 12 (Reuters) – Protesters opposing pandemic restrictions flouted a court order and emergency rules, continuing to occupy a vital trade corridor between Canada and the United States early Saturday, hours after a judge granted an injunction to end the blockade that has crippled North America’s well-woven auto industry.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promised President Joe Biden quick action to end the crisis, and on Friday a Canadian judge ordered an end to the four-day blockade of the Ambassador Bridge, America’s busiest land border crossing. North.

The order went into effect at 7 p.m. Eastern Time (0000 GMT), but five hours after the deadline, around 100 protesters crowded around the entrance to the bridge, waving Canadian flags.

Join now for FREE unlimited access to


As the number of protesters and police dwindled as the night progressed, protesters continued to block the bridge with trucks and vans, preventing any flow of traffic in either direction.

Protesters sang the Canadian national anthem and midnight, and some shouted “Freedom!”

Police, who began gathering in a parking lot a few blocks from protesters, began handing out pamphlets outlining the penalties under Ontario’s emergency order, which went into effect at midnight .

Trudeau told reporters earlier that no action was on the table.

Companies diverted freight to stem losses amid production cuts by companies such as Ford (FN).

On Friday, Superior Court Judge Geoffrey Morawetz approved the request from auto industry associations and Windsor city authorities in hopes of ending the protests. Occupying the access roads leading to the bridge on Friday, protesters expressed defiance and there were few signs they were backing down.

“Canada is supposed to be a free country,” said Liz Vallée, a protester from Chatham, Ont. “When that freedom is threatened, we must stand up.”

Vallée said she and others would stay until all pandemic mandates are lifted.

The ‘Freedom Convoy’ protests, launched by Canadian truckers opposed to a vaccination or quarantine mandate for cross-border drivers, are also occupying areas outside government buildings in the nation’s capital Ottawa and have blocked two more US crossings. small.

The protests have inspired convoys and similar plans in France, New Zealand, Australia and the United States, whose Department of Homeland Security is working to ensure that a planned ‘freedom convoy’ event in early March in Washington, DC, “does not disrupt the legality of commerce.” Read more

East of Ottawa, people were expected to gather in Fredericton in the province of New Brunswick for a weekend protest. Local police said officers were stationed at town entrances to keep traffic flowing. Canada’s financial capital, Toronto, was also bracing for more protests over the weekend.


Along with calls for action from U.S. officials and business leaders, Biden voiced concerns about auto plant closures and production slowdowns during a phone call with Trudeau, the White House said. in a press release.

“Both leaders agreed that the actions of individuals who impede travel and trade between our two countries have significant direct impacts on the lives and livelihoods of citizens,” the statement said.

“The Prime Minister has promised to act quickly to enforce the law, and the President has thanked him for the steps he and other Canadian authorities are taking to restore the open passage of bridges to the United States,” said he added.

Trudeau told reporters he agreed with Biden that the blockades cannot continue. “Everything is on the table because this illegal activity must stop and it will end,” Trudeau said.

Cross-border trade between the United States and Canada in vehicles and essential parts totaled $51.5 billion in 2021, according to IHS Markit estimates.

The Biden administration had urged Canada to use federal powers to ease the Ambassador Bridge blockade, a step the Trudeau government failed to take. Trudeau said Friday that his government was not seriously considering using the military during the protests. Read more

The leader of Ontario, where police have avoided using force to disperse protesters, sought pressure on Friday by threatening fines of C$100,000 and up to a year in prison for non-compliance .

Announcing the penalties as part of the emergency measures, Ontario Premier Doug Ford said they were necessary to “make it clear that it is illegal and punishable to block and obstruct the movement of goods, people and services along critical infrastructure”.

Windsor police issued a statement warning of the arrests, but it was unclear if or when authorities would start issuing fines or seeking jail time.


As car production cuts mount, Ford, the second-largest U.S. automaker, said on Friday it had temporarily halted work at its Ohio assembly plant. General Motors and Toyota also announced further production cuts.

The stock of Canadian auto parts maker Magna International (MG.TO) fell 6.4% on Friday after saying it suffered a first blow following the closure of the bridge. Read more

Beyond auto sector losses, the three obstructed U.S.-Canada crossings account for 33% of Canada’s trade with the U.S., valued at $616 million a day, Export Development & Development said. Canada.

Closing the bridge could worsen the limited supply of new vehicles in the United States and contribute to the already rapid rise in the price of new vehicles, IHS Markit said in a report on Friday. Even if the blockade ends, a return to normal will take several weeks as shortages ripple through the supply chain, IHS Markit said.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan, home to nearly a fifth of U.S. auto production, told CNN: “The Canadian government must do whatever it takes to address this problem safely and quickly.”

($1 = 1.2737 Canadian dollars)

Join now for FREE unlimited access to


Reporting by Kayla Tarnowski and Trevor Hunnicutt; Additional reporting by Steven Scherer and Julie Gordon in Ottawa, Anna Mehler-Paperny in Toronto, Doina Chiacu and David Shepardson in Washington and Ismail Shakil, Kanishka Singh and Shivansh Tiwary in Bengaluru; Written by Rami Ayyub and Denny Thomas; Editing by Grant McCool, William Mallard and Edwina Gibbs

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.