Braid: Governments are waking up to threat of convoys to Canadian economy

‘The economy you want to reopen is suffering,’ said interim Conservative Party leader Candice Bergen

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The freedom convoys are starting to turn against us, and we’re not talking about the trucks.

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Faced with massive economic damage and inconvenience to businesses and individuals, politicians are finally concerned enough to act.

The federal conservatives, having encouraged and pampered the convoys, are now calling for an end to the blockades.

‘To all of you who are taking part in the protests, I believe now is the time for you to bring down the barricades, stop the disruptive action and come together,’ Acting Leader Candice Bergen told the House of Commons. .

“The economy you want to see reopen is suffering,” she said. “Farmers, manufacturers, small businesses and families are suffering. I don’t think that’s what you want to do.

Just days ago, Bergen met with the Ottawa protesters and called them “passionate, patriotic and peaceful.”

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But nothing terrifies federal politicians like big economic problems in vote-rich southern Ontario. And the blocking of the Ambassador Bridge – the Windsor-Detroit crossing – is quickly becoming a monstrous problem.

Even the pathetically passive Trudeau government, which seems to be waiting for the protesters to completely discredit themselves, may have to act quickly.

On Thursday, the Ford government in Ontario took the first really tough step with a court order freezing all contributions made to the protest campaign pages.

The stakes for this country are enormous.

More than $400 million worth of goods crosses the Ambassador Bridge every day. It carries a quarter of Canada’s trade with the United States

The blockade has already forced the closure of an auto plant in Ontario and prompted the city of Windsor to demand an injunction.

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Mayor Drew Dilkens calls this blockade a “national crisis” and he is right, for reasons that go far beyond the immediate events.

Anti-vaccine protesters block an intersection near the Ambassador Bridge border crossing in Windsor, Ontario on February 9, 2022, demanding to be allowed to enter the main border protest site. Photo by GEOFF ROBINS/AFP via Getty Images

US President Joe Biden was elected on a Buy America platform. The Trudeau government launched frantic lobbying efforts to exempt Canadian industries, particularly auto manufacturing.

These blockages could give Biden an argument to repatriate all manufacturing by U.S. automakers, ending the complex cross-border trade that keeps Ontario industry thriving.

Even the blockade at Coutts Crossing, with its much smaller but still significant trade volumes, could cause Americans to rethink where they buy their meat and other supplies. Some American politicians are already calling for economic repatriation.

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“Security of supply” has always been Canada’s strongest argument for open and very lucrative trade with the United States. For decades, every Premier of Alberta has touted our totally reliable flow of goods, especially energy.

Today, Canada appears both unreliable and weak as a trading partner, unable to end blockades of vital passages or even the nation’s capital.

Biden has been America’s most protectionist president for many years. Our economy simply cannot afford to give him and American protectionists any more excuses.

This is what protests become – ready-made reasons to dismiss our economy as irrelevant and Canada as a country of comic opera, brought to its knees by trucks, horns and street parties.

Protesters listen to Premier Jason Kenney at the roadblock on Highway 4 out of Milk River toward the Coutts border crossing on Tuesday, February 8, 2022.
Protesters listen to Premier Jason Kenney at the roadblock on Highway 4 out of Milk River toward the Coutts border crossing on Tuesday, February 8, 2022.

The White House, however, is happy to help in the current crisis.

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An official said high-level talks were underway. The Americans are urging us to use “federal powers” ​​to end the blockade. They provide homeland security support.

Thanks very much. But let us remember that the United States has often helped other countries with internal problems, not always with happy results for these countries.

At this point, the protesters themselves become almost useless.

We know their fundamental ideology – the rejection of an elected government, the belief in an overriding “ruler of the country”, which of course they alone represent, and the belief that their problem trumps all others.

The very thing they claim to hate the most, vaccination mandates and other COVID-19 measures, are falling across Canada. But the trucks do not leave.

It is an insurrectional thought with a single endpoint, authoritarianism. Fortunately, more and more Canadians seem to realize this every day.

Protesters should listen to their girlfriend Candice Bergen and get out before they cause lasting harm to Canada.

Don Braid’s column appears regularly in the Herald

Twitter: @DonBraid

Facebook: Don Braid’s Politics

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