Mayor of Canadian city says if protesters don't leave, authorities are prepared to physically remove them

The Ambassador Bridge which connects Detroit and Windsor, Ontario, is seen closed on February 10 from the Detroit side due to trucker-led protests in Canada over Covid-19 mandates. (Jeff Kowalsky/AFP/Getty Images)

The mayor of Windsor, Canada, which is right across the border from Detroit, Michigan, said the protest blocking the flow of traffic on the Ambassador Bridge that straddles the two cities is financially impacting his city and the whole nation.

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“For perspective, we’re talking 8,000 to 10,000 trucks a day. … In terms of dollars and cents, we’re talking about $400 million per day that crosses at this location,” Mayor Drew Dilkens said to CNN’s Kate Bolduan.

“In Windsor, we are the auto capital of Canada. The supply chain on both sides of the border has been built up and is tightly integrated. When the border is closed, there is an immediate reaction because of … delivery schedules. There is an immediate reaction at plants on both sides of the border,” he said.

He added that the economies of both the US and Canada “cannot handle this type of impact” for much longer.

“If the protesters don’t leave, there will have to be a path forward. If that means physically removing them … then we’re prepared to do that,” he said.

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer called on Canadian authorities to “reopen traffic on the bridge.” She said ongoing closures have negatively impacted Michigan’s economy, including the automotive, agriculture and manufacturing sectors. 

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Dilkens said there is also a threat of violence in the demonstration, and police have encountered protesters come out of vehicles with tire irons.

“You have people on the ground so committed to this protest that they have expressed themselves and said they’re willing to die for this particular protest, so that amps up the temperature on the ground in a different way that requires a different police response,” he said.

He said police are trying to negotiate, and officers from other cities have come in to assist. But the group’s demands vary widely, from protesting against the government to climate change initiatives to vaccine mandates.

“I would call them a leaderless group and frankly, the requests that these folks have, they are not unified,” he said.

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