Update (2013ET): And just like that, the honkening may be coming to an end - as Alberta Premier Jason Kenney announced on Tuesday that he's ending the province's vaccine passport system.
The program will end by midnight tonight, according to Kenney.
As the Toronto Star notes:
The passport system, dubbed as the Restrictions Exemption Program, is the first of the province’s current public health restrictions to go in a phased approach laid out by Kenney at a press conference Tuesday.
“Now is the time to begin learning to live with COVID,” said Kenney. “These restrictions have led to terrible division.”
“We cannot remain at a heightened state of emergency forever. We have to begin to heal.”
Kenney announced a three-stage approach for the loosening of public health measures.
First, the province will remove nearly all restrictions for children, including the kindergarten to Grade 12 mask mandate, by the coming weekend. Children who are 12 and under also won’t have to abide by the general mask mandate in Alberta. The general mandate still applies for the rest of the population.
“It is time to let kids be kids,” Kenney said.
As the Star reports, after three weeks, authorities will determine if the province can move to Stage 2, which would see "almost all the remaining restrictions lifted," including the mask mandate, capacity limits, and work-from-home orders. Kenny is hopeful this can be accomplished by March 1.
The final stage would see all restrictions lifted - however this could be paused if the healthcare system is under too much stress from Covid.
"The threat of COVID-19 to public health no longer outweighs the damaging impact of public health restrictions," said Kenney, adding "We are well positioned to live with the virus."
That said, Rebel News' Ezra Lavant says Kenney is "He's still going to have the QR codes. And he will still allow other entities, including private businesses, to discriminate based on those QR codes."
I deleted two tweets because they weren't clear enough:— Ezra Levant 🍁 (@ezralevant) February 9, 2022
Kenney is only ending the provincially-mandated vaccine passport. He's still going to have the QR codes. And he will still allow other entities, including private businesses, to discriminate based on those QR codes
The announcement marks a significant divergence from an clearly rattled Justin Trudeau.
NOW - Canada's PM Trudeau says he and his team will stay focused on vaccine mandates "to avoid further restrictions."pic.twitter.com/WqNFaeVmmd— Disclose.tv (@disclosetv) February 8, 2022
Trudeau walked out of QP during my question today.— John Barlow (@JohnBarlowMP) February 8, 2022
Canadians are standing up right now, grabbing this moment in our history, because they know there is something fundamentally wrong when a Prime Minister refuses to listen. #cdnpoli pic.twitter.com/ymzApUr4ri
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Update (1340ET): More than 48 hours into protesters blocking the Ambassador Bridge that connects Windsor, Ontario, with Detroit, there are new warnings the auto industry might come to a "screeching halt" this week.
"Basically, if there's a shutdown of transportation routes, the auto industry comes to a screeching halt in about two days," Robert Wildeboer, executive chairman of Martinrea International Inc., said Tuesday on BNN Bloomberg Television.
Martinrea is a major auto parts manufacturer based in Vaughan, Ontario. It manufactures engine blocks, transmissions, cases, housings, suspensions, chassis components, and body paneling for automotive companies in Detroit.
"We have 38 trucks cross at the Detroit border per day and 16 in Sarnia," Wildeboer said. Since protesters have shuttered the border crossing, it appears Martinrea's ability to cross into Detroit has become challenging.
It's Day 2 of the anti-mandate demonstration in Windsor. There is no incoming traffic from the U.S. on the Ambassador Bridge and trucks are lined up for several kilometres to cross into Michigan. pic.twitter.com/cln0q3F8fk— Dan Janisse (@winstarjanisse) February 8, 2022
So far, Martinrea's shares trading in Toronto has yet to react to the disruption.
"A closure of the bridge would be catastrophic for the Canadian economy," Brian Kingston, president, and chief executive officer of the Canadian Vehicle Manufacturers' Association, told Bloomberg. "It's responsible for approximately 25% of our goods trade, it is far and away the most important border crossing between Canada and the U.S."
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A group of protesters have blocked one of the busiest international land border crossings in Canada - the Ambassador Bridge which links Windsor, Ontario to Detroit, for the second day in a row.
As the CBC reports, "Dozens of demonstrators lined Huron Church Road, which feeds traffic to the international crossing from Highway 401, with trucks and vehicles starting Monday afternoon and into Tuesday morning with local police asking people to avoid the area."
The Ambassador Bridge is closed.— Chris Ensing (@ChrisEnsingCBC) February 8, 2022
Here’s the scene at Huron Church and College right now.
Police say it was calm overnight.
I’ve noticed the backlog of transport trucks caught in the protest have moved. pic.twitter.com/V9762O7dMS
As of Tuesday morning, Police announced in a tweet that one lane of US-bound traffic is open.
"I'm here for my kids, just to get it back to normal. They haven't played hockey, it's been a disaster. Just end, give us back what we need to live again. Trudeau, Doug Ford, just listen to us," said Sam Kovak of Woodslee, Ont.
""I was in Ottawa the past two weekends, all the people I talked to were vaccinated. It's got nothing to do — just give us our freedom back," he added. "Now we're in the exact same position two years ago, my kids are still sitting at home, my wife is still sitting at home."
"We're sorry, but we have to make a stand."
The Ambassador Bridge is one of the busiest international land border crossings in Canada and a major route for transport trucks.
Access to two schools on Huron Church Road near the bridge is limited Tuesday, prompting the Catholic school board to send a notice to families Tuesday.
Police are asking students and parents to avoid the road, and access the schools from California Avenue.
"The Windsor Police have assured that they have no concerns for student or staff safety at this time. They will have two police officers at the school to assist us with the situation this morning," the memo read. -CBC
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Following the tactics used by Canadian truckers in Ottawa, a growing number of trucker-inspired protests appear to be gaining momentum worldwide—with groups in the Netherlands, Austria, the United States, the UK, Australia, and New Zealand forming.
The Ottawa protest, known as the “Freedom Convoy,” aims to do away with Canadian COVID-19 vaccine mandates, namely for truckers crossing the U.S.–Canada border. On Sunday evening, the mayor of Ottawa declared an emergency, while police started making arrests and seizing the truckers’ fuel.
In New Zealand, truckers reportedly launched a convoy from both the North and South Islands. They are slated to converge at the country’s capital, Wellington, according to the New Zealand Herald.
One of the truckers, who only called herself Jess, told the Toronto Star that she is attempting to organize a trucker protest in New Zealand, which has some of the strictest COVID-19 restrictions in the world, because “her country needed to hear the call to stand up.”
She confirmed that the two groups will converge in Wellington in the near future after communicating with truckers via social media.
Farm vehicles joining the trucker convoy protest against COVID-19 mandates parked in Ottawa on Feb. 5, 2020. (Courtesy of Simon Alary)
“I think you’re starting to see what will become a big global movement to end these mandates,” Brian Brase, co-organizer of the U.S. protest, told Fox News on Sunday, referring to vaccine requirements.
“It’s a violation of your human rights to be mandated to take this vaccine. If you want it, go get it, but being mandated to get it, we’re standing up against that. We think it’s wrong.”
Last week, organizers of a U.S. freedom convoy criticized Facebook after the social media giant removed a page organizing protests. The truckers told Fox News that they were planning to drive from California to Washington, D.C.
Truckers in the United Kingdom will also demonstrate against mandates in a Glasgow suburb and will drive to Edinburgh, the capital, before heading to London, organizers told the Scottish Daily Express newspaper. Freedom Convoys will also depart in the English cities of Manchester, Exeter, Bristol, and Bournemouth, as well as in cities in Ireland, Northern Ireland, and Wales.
In the Netherlands, according to the local NL Times, dozens of trucks and other vehicles gathered in Leeuwarden to protest local COVID-19-related mandates and restrictions on Sunday. A video posted by the “Freedom Convoy Nederland” showed the group.
Protesters demonstrating against COVID-19 mandates gather as a truck convoy blocks the highway at the U.S. border crossing in Coutts, Alta., on Feb. 2, 2022. (The Canadian Press/Jeff McIntosh)
Elsewhere in Europe, Aram Lemmer, a business owner and organizer in Austria, told the outlet that he got commitments from about 2,500 vehicles to drive to Vienna, the capital, to protest against mandates. Recently, Austria passed a law that will mandate vaccinations for all eligible people aged 18 and older or they’ll face hefty fines.
And police in the Australian Capital Territory say they expect crowd sizes for the “Convoy to Canberra” to peak on Feb. 8 when Australia’s Parliament resumes. Protesters led by truckers are expected to gather outside Parliament House.
It comes as Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson declared a state of emergency on Sunday, alleging a “serious danger” posed by the trucker protest. Protest organizers say their movement is peaceful.
“IMPORTANT: Anyone attempting to bring material supports (gas, etc.) to the demonstrators could be subject to arrest. Enforcement is underway,” Ottawa police also said in a statement on social media Sunday.
The decision was panned by the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms, a group representing the truckers.
“In a free and democratic society that is governed by the rule of law, citizens can freely associate with each other, including the giving and receiving of goods and gifts. There is no law that would allow the Ottawa Police to arrest people for giving fuel or food to another Canadian,” Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms lawyer Nicholas Wansbutter said in a statement.