Politics

U.S. offers Trudeau government help to end border blockade

U.S. officials have offered to help the Trudeau government end a protest blockade whose effects are multiplying across the border and causing increasing concern in Washington.

White House says Homeland Security chief urged Ottawa to use its powers to quash the blockade

Truckers and supporters are seen blocking access to the Ambassador Bridge from the Canadian side in Windsor, Ont., on Thursday. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

U.S. officials have offered to help the Trudeau government end an anti-vaccine mandate protest blockade that is sending ripple effects through the American economy and causing increasing concern in Washington.

The White House says U.S. officials had multiple conversations on Thursday with their Canadian counterparts about the blockade on the Ambassador Bridge, a major trade artery which connects Windsor, Ont. with Detroit.

The White House said Thursday the U.S. federal cabinet and senior administration staff are now seized with this issue.

"[They] have been engaged around the clock to bring this to a swift end," the White House said in response to questions from CBC News.

The administration of U.S. President Joe Biden said Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas urged his Canadian counterparts Thursday to use their own federal powers to end the blockade at the Canada-U.S. border.

Mayorkas also reportedly offered the help of his department to end the impasse.

The White House did not elaborate on the offer of help. Mayorkas's department handles multiple agencies, including U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Those officers are posted at border checkpoints, including the Ambassador Bridge — the busiest crossing between the two countries and a vital trade link.

Disruptions at that bridge have escalated U.S. interest in the convoy protests. Those protests were covered initially by U.S. media as a right-wing phenomenon but are now drawing wide-ranging national attention as a political and economic issue.

A man is seen carrying propane toward the site of the protest at the Detroit-Windsor crossing on Thursday. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press)

"We know that disruptions like these hit hard-working American families the hardest," the White House said.

The disruption has paused auto production at plants on both sides of the border. One U.S. lawmaker has suggested that the United States should rely less on imports from Canada and buy more of its auto products at home.

The White House said it's aware of reports of plans for similar truck-convoy protests in the U.S. at the Super Bowl and across the country.

It said it has no reason yet to believe these events are anything but protests protected by the free speech provisions of the U.S. Constitution. It said it will send Homeland Security personnel to this Sunday's Super Bowl in addition to the contingent already there.

WATCH | White House urges Canada to end border blockade:

White House urges Ottawa to use federal powers to clear border blockades

5 months ago
Duration 1:53
The White House is offering the support of homeland security while urging Canada's federal government to use its powers to clear the blockades at key border crossings before the impact on supply chains grows.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Alexander Panetta is a Washington-based correspondent for CBC News who has covered American politics and Canada-U.S. issues since 2013. He previously worked in Ottawa, Quebec City and internationally, reporting on politics, conflict, disaster and the Montreal Expos.

With files from the CBC's Katie Simpson

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