Trudeau calls for end to protests

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has hit out at protests by truckers around the country as “unacceptable”.

Speaking to parliament in Ottawa, he defended the Covid restrictions that have prompted truckers to converge on the nation’s capital.

Ottawa police meanwhile warned protesters could be arrested, and a conviction might cost them their jobs.

The protests in Ottawa and at two Canada-US border crossings have been going on for two weeks.

“Blockages, illegal demonstrations are unacceptable, and are negatively impacting businesses and manufacturers,” Trudeau said on Wednesday.

“We must do everything to bring them to an end.”

He said the protesters are “trying to blockade our economy, our democracy and our fellow citizens’ daily lives”.

“It has to stop.”

Trudeau returned to parliament on Monday following a week-long isolation after he caught coronavirus.

Since Monday drivers have been blocking the largest international suspension bridge in the world at a border crossing that makes up around a quarter of US-Canada trade.

The closure of the Ambassador Bridge by about 100 protesters in their big rigs has been denounced by trade groups. The span connects Windsor, Ontario, to Detroit, Michigan.

Car manufacturers in the region say that they have had to reduce production and shift hours due to parts shortages caused by the ongoing blockade. Industry experts say that it could result in company layoffs and increase the prices that consumers pay for vehicles.

The world’s biggest manufacturer, Toyota, has halted production at three factories in Ontario, saying no more vehicles will be produced there this week.

The White House has called for an end to the protests saying they risk hurting the car industry and US agricultural exports.

The truckers are protesting against a rule requiring truckers entering Canada to be fully immunised against coronavirus. The demonstrators have also voiced opposition to Covid passports and mask mandates.

Trudeau has refused to budge on federal Covid measures, even as provinces begin lifting their restrictions.

Alberta, Saskatchewan, Quebec and Prince Edward Island have all announced plans to lift most mitigation measures this month. Nova Scotia and New Brunswick are also easing some restrictions. (BBC)

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