Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer said Thursday that the blocking of Detroit’s Ambassador Bridge by protesters was hurting the state’s economy.
“The blockade is having a significant impact on working families in Michigan who are just trying to do their jobs. Our communities and automotive, manufacturing and agricultural businesses are feeling the effects. It is hitting paychecks and production lines. is unacceptable,” she said on Twitter.
Whitmer insisted that the bridge, which connects Windsor, Ont., and Detroit, must be reopened. “Commercial traffic is stalled and heavily blocked at the Blue Water Bridge,” she wrote.
The bridge has been closed since Monday night amid continued protests by the so-called Freedom Convoy, whose protests have moved from Canada to the United States. The movement was started by truckers angry at Canada’s new COVID-19 vaccine mandate requiring drivers entering the country to be fully vaccinated or face tested and quarantined. Other people upset by COVID-19 policies have joined the cause.
The Ambassador Bridge is the busiest land border crossing in North America. Nearly 40,000 commuters and truckers carrying $323 million worth of goods cross the border through the bridge each day.
“Countless Michigan residents rely on this daily flow of food and people to get things done,” Whitmer said in the statement.
On Wednesday, the city of Windsor in Ontario said about 100 people were demonstrating against the bridge. Freedom Truck Convoy protesters parked trucks to blockade parts of Ottawa for more than 10 days. Protesters say they won’t leave until all vaccine and COVID-19 restrictions are lifted, The Detroit News reported.
The protests are clogging “essential trade arteries” that supply businesses and individuals with “essential goods, food, medicine and industrial components that fuel our economy,” the Ontario Trucking Association said in a statement Tuesday.
Michigan’s economy is heavily dependent on international trade. In 2019, the state exported $23.1 billion to Canada, or 41% of the state’s total international exports, according to a U.S. Department of Commerce report. Michigan’s largest exports to Canada include motor vehicles and parts, totaling $12.8 billion.
A spokesperson for automaker Stellantis, which makes Chryslers, told the Free press he cut short his Wednesday morning shifts at the Windsor assembly plant due to a shortage of parts.
“You have 100 people holding part of our national economy hostage. That’s why this can’t last long,” Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens said at a press briefing on Wednesday. “Steps will have to be taken to reopen this bridge so that the economy can continue to function.”
Whitmer said it was ‘imperative’ for governments to defuse the economic blockade and ‘take all necessary and appropriate steps to immediately and safely reopen traffic so that we can continue to grow our economy, support jobs well paid and lower costs for families.”
Update 02/10/2022, 11:30 a.m. ET: This story has been updated with additional information and information.