The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Protests by Canadian Truckers

Feb 14, 2022

The protests in Canada against vaccine mandates began on January 22, when a convoy of truck drivers was organized and left British Columbia en route to Ottawa, the capital of Canada.

Upon reaching Ottawa, hundreds of protesters used trucks and other vehicles to blockade and occupy the area around the Canadian Parliament and other government offices, effectively shutting it down to all traffic. They were joined in Ottawa by thousands of other protesters. As of February 12, the protesters have continued their occupation for over 2 weeks. There are more than 400 trucks still blocking the streets of Ottawa. None of the trucks have been removed because all of the towing companies in the city have refused the government’s orders to tow them. Meanwhile, truckers also held protests in other Canadian cities, including Toronto, Quebec City and Calgary.

These protests began over a mandate that truck drivers going either way between the U.S. and Canada must be vaccinated against Covid. So other Canadian truck drivers took their protests to the border crossings between Canada and the U.S. On February 8, truckers blocked the Ambassador Bridge, which connects Windsor, Ontario to Detroit. For 5 days, the protesters stopped traffic on this bridge, which handles over 25% of all the goods and products traded between the U.S. and Canada. About one-third of the trucks using the Ambassador Bridge carry auto parts and vehicles back and forth between the two countries. By blocking this bridge, the protesters began to immediately shut down parts of the auto industry in both countries.

GM had to cancel shifts and shorten shifts at assembly plants in Lansing and Flint, both in Michigan. Ford had to cut production at an assembly plant in Oakville and an engine plant in Windsor, both in Canada. Stellantis (formerly Chrysler) had to shorten shifts at assembly plants in Windsor and in Toledo, Ohio, as well as other plants in the U.S. Honda cut production at its plant in Alliston, Ontario. Toyota cut production at all 3 of its plants in Canada. The protest at the Ambassador Bridge even affected the auto companies as far away as Kentucky, where Toyota was forced to cut shifts.

Some of the auto companies tried to reroute trucks carrying parts over another bridge in Michigan, while other auto companies tried to move parts by planes and helicopters. But despite all these efforts, in just a few days, by blocking just one bridge, the protests had stopped a lot of auto production, costing the auto companies hundreds of millions of dollars.

There were also protests that periodically shut down other border crossings, including at Coutts, between Alberta and Montana, and at Emerson, between Manitoba and North Dakota.

The media has mounted a campaign to criticize these protesters by saying that they are hurting the economy. One of the protesters in Windsor said that he lost his job because of the lockdowns at the beginning of the pandemic and hasn’t been able to get it back. When he was questioned by the media about the protests, he said, “when we do something, we’re hurting the economy. You guys have been doing it for two years? What’s the difference?”