Canada Judge Issues Order Allowing Police to Remove Bridge Protesters

Chief Justice Geoffrey Morawetz of Ontario’s Superior Court said the injunction would take effect on Friday at 7 p.m. ET, to give protesters an opportunity to clear the area.

The decision caps a day where authorities ramped up efforts to end the protest at the Ambassador Bridge, which connects Detroit with Windsor, Ontario. Protesters tried to prevent the court from issuing an injunction by agreeing Friday morning to open one lane for U.S. traffic into Canada, which has been shut since Monday.

The City of Windsor and representatives for the auto industry applied for the court order. The bridge is a conduit for automotive trade.

The province of Ontario declared a state of emergency, citing the bridge blockade and a protest in Ottawa. Premier Doug Ford said Friday his cabinet would issue orders that would establish steep fines for demonstrators who block trade corridors such as highways and airports, and give authorities the power to revoke the driver’s licenses of protesters in Ottawa and at the Ambassador Bridge.

One lane of the bridge was open for drivers from Canada to head to the U.S., although the bridge operator has said traffic levels are sharply reduced. Drivers from the U.S. have been unable to get to Canada on the bridge because of the protest.

The protesters had vowed to stay until Canada dropped all Covid-19 mandates. Some of the protesters said they were inspired by the demonstration in Ottawa, which is now 15 days old and has disrupted the lives of the capital’s residents.

“What started as a local protest has escalated into a national emergency”

— Goldy Hyder, president, Business Council of Canada

The biggest business groups in the U.S. and Canada have demanded that Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau move swiftly to clear the demonstration. Concern has grown about the economic ramifications, especially supply-chain strains, from the protests in Canada.

“We respectfully urge the Canadian government to act swiftly to address the disruption to the flow of trade and its impact on manufacturers and other businesses on both sides of the border,” the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, National Association of Manufacturers and the Business Roundtable said in a statement late Thursday. “The business community is rolling up its sleeves to find workarounds and keep facilities up and running, but we are already seeing some production cuts, shift reductions, and temporary plant closures.”

Mr. Trudeau, through his official Twitter account, said late Thursday that federal officials would coordinate with regional authorities to end the protests. His office said the Canadian leader would hold a press conference Friday afternoon.

One of the protesters said he expected the police to give the drivers time to leave on their own if an injunction comes through. “But they should know we’ll just come back,” he said.

Protesters gathered on Thursday at the foot of the Ambassador Bridge in Windsor, Ontario.

Photo: Cole Burston/Getty Images

Most auto makers in North America have curtailed production and sent employees home because parts required for assembly couldn’t be delivered due to the protest. The bridge, one of the busiest border crossings in North America, accommodates roughly 30% of annual two-way U.S.-Canada trade, which recent U.S. data pegs at over $600 billion. Two-way U.S.-Canada trade of over $28 billion in motor vehicles and auto parts was transported last year via the Ambassador Bridge, according to Statistics Canada.

Ford Motor Co. said Friday that two factories in Ontario remained at reduced production levels and an Ohio assembly plant was offline because of parts shortages related to the bridge closure.

General Motors Co. and Stellantis N.V. said their factories were operating under normal schedules on Friday. On Thursday, GM reduced output at a Michigan plant because of the bridge blockade. Stellantis, which makes Ram and Jeep vehicles, said several U.S. and Canadian plants had been affected Wednesday, and the company has since resumed normal operations.

“This remains an incredibly fluid situation,” a Stellantis spokeswoman said Friday.

A view on Friday of the Ambassador Bridge over the Detroit River.

Photo: tannen maury/Shutterstock

Commercial trucks have been rerouted north to the Blue Water Bridge, which crosses the St. Clair River and connects Port Huron, Mich., with Sarnia, Ontario, roughly 66 miles north of the Detroit-Windsor crossing. Truckers have faced delays in crossing the border due to a pickup in traffic.

“Cutting Canada off from our biggest trading partner can ultimately have only one impact—reducing output,” said Linda Hasenfratz, chief executive of Linamar Corp., a Canadian-based auto-parts maker.

“What started as a local protest has escalated into a national emergency,” said Goldy Hyder, president of the Business Council of Canada, which represents the country’s top chief executives. “It is imperative that the federal government lead a nationally coordinated effort to clear the blockades and restore order.”

Truck traffic at the Blue Water Bridge in Sarnia, Ontario, on Thursday.

Photo: geoff robins/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

Write to Vipal Monga at and Paul Vieira at

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