Trudeau holds emergency virtual meeting with opposition leaders over ongoing blockade, protests

By Lucas Casaletto and The Canadian Press

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau organized a virtual meeting with opposition leaders late on Thursday to discuss the ramifications of the blockade and yet another day of anti-mandate protests.

In a thread on Twitter, Trudeau said the meeting was productive, elaborating on how demonstrators are “harming the communities they’re taking place in — and they’re hurting jobs, businesses, and our country’s economy.”

“First, I convened an Incident Response Group meeting with ministers and officials. We’ll continue to work closely with municipal and provincial governments to end these blockades and to make sure they have the resources they need,” Trudeau said.

“I also spoke with Drew Dilkens, the Mayor of Windsor, about the illegal blockade of the Ambassador Bridge. We’re committed to helping the Mayor and the province get the situation under control — because it is causing real harm to workers and economies on both sides of the border.”

For the fourth straight day, truckers taking part in what they dubbed the Freedom Convoy blocked the Ambassador Bridge connecting Windsor, Ontario, to Detroit, disrupting the flow of auto parts and other products between the two countries.

Dilkens announced the city will seek a court injunction to end the occupation.

“The economic harm is not sustainable and it must come to an end,” he said.

Trudeau says he briefed opposition leaders on the current situation.

“I stressed how important it is for all Members of Parliament, from every party, to denounce these illegal acts — and to call for an end to these blockades.”

U.S. President Joe Biden is now calling on Ottawa to find a solution as cross-border blockades are significantly affecting the economy on both sides of the border.

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said on Thursday the protest is hurting “Michigan’s working families who are just trying to do their jobs,” noting the Ambassador Bridge is the busiest land border crossing in North America. She says the local, provincial and national governments must “de-escalate this economic blockade.”

Trudeau and Ontario Premier Doug Ford are working to get the situation under control. The Prime Minister says they are committed to providing federal resources to support enforcement efforts in Ottawa “where the occupation has significantly disrupted local residents’ lives, impacting businesses and families with harassment, threats of violence, and vandalism.”

Trudeau is expected to speak with Biden on Friday.

Singh speaks out, criticizes Trudeau’s lack of action

Jagmeet Singh of the NDPs called out Trudeau in a statement on Thursday after the virtual meeting.

Singh says thousands of workers have been forced to stay home from their jobs, and instead of showing leadership, the Prime Minister “has spent more time looking for excuses than providing solutions.”

“Today, in our meeting with the Prime Minister and other opposition leaders, I again called on Prime Minister Trudeau to act urgently to end this convoy and to work on a plan to get Canadians out of the pandemic,” Singh said.

“The occupations are hurting families, small businesses, and workers. The blockades in Windsor are disrupting our supply chain and auto manufacturing in the city has been forced to shut down. Schools in Ottawa and Manitoba are being targeted.”

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh takes part in a Instagram Live session during a campaign stop in downtown Vancouver, Friday, September 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

Many Canadians are expressing frustration at the lack of a clear plan from any level of government to end the protests. On Monday, the city of Ottawa pointed fingers at the federal government, the provincial government pointed fingers at the city of Ottawa and the federal government pointed fingers at the province.

The interim leader of the Conservative Party of Canada reversed course and cut her party’s support for the cross-country demonstrations.

Speaking to the House of Commons, Candice Bergen called on protesters to stop the border blockades and remove their trucks for the sake of the economy.

Just two weeks ago, Bergen suggested her party do everything to make the demonstrations the prime minister’s problem.

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