By GREG BISHOP
THE CENTER SQUARE
(The Center Square) – Truckers throughout the Midwest are watching closely to see what happens with the convoy in Canada protesting that country’s COVID-19 mandates.
The protest with large trucks blocking major routes in Canada and parking in the streets of Ottawa has been ongoing since late January.
Don Schaefer, executive vice president of Mid-West Truckers Association, said the ongoing “Freedom Convoy” is impacting logistics for the Midwest, especially for transporting automobile parts.
“There are a lot of other goods that are manufactured in Canada that are brought down into the United States and vice versa,” Mr. Schaefer told The Center Square. “They’re our largest trading partner.”
Truckers have been facing a variety of issues for the past two years under government COVID-19 mitigations. A Canadian mandate that requires truckers crossing the border be vaccinated or quarantined sparked the protest.
“I’m not sure this is the way and the means that they’re going to get the issues solved, but it is bringing it to the forefront, at least,” Mr. Schaefer said.
With a major bridge to Canada being blocked, Mr. Schaefer said Mid-West truckers are watching things closely to see where this goes.
“If you like the way the Canadian government is handling it, that’s one thing, but a lot of people feel that the administration of the prime minister has gone beyond reach, and there’s better ways to solve the issue,” Mr. Schaefer said.
Reports indicate Canadian law enforcement have seized personal diesel fuel cans from truckers. There’s also been issues with online fundraising efforts for the trucker protests being frozen.
Online fundraiser through the site GoFundMe raised more than $10 million for the truckers but GoFundMe sparked backlash when they said the funds would be redirected to another charity because of controversy surrounding the trucking movement. After criticism and threats of investigations, GoFundMe later said it would return the money to the original donors.
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer called on Canada to address the truck blockade on the Ambassador Bridge, citing harm to Michigan’s economy, including the automobile industry, agriculture, manufacturing and more.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security briefed local and state police across the country of possible trucker convoys disrupting large U.S. cities.
Mr. Schaefer said there are social media rumors of such a thing, but he doesn’t see that developing in the Midwest.
“They’re easing the masking mandates, we don’t have as strict … protocols that they’re protesting in Canada,” he said.