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Court to hear injunction seeking to end Ambassador Bridge blockade

Windsor

An Ontario Superior Court of Justice will hear an injunction Friday, put forward by auto-industry leaders and backed by the City of Windsor, Ont., seeking an injunction to end a now five-day protest at the Ambassador Bridge international crossing.

Anti-restrictions protesters maintain a blockade of the Ambassador Bridge border crossing in Windsor, Ont., on Thursday. On Friday, the blockade entered its fifth day, as auto groups and the City of Windsor sought an injunction to end it.(Evan Mitsui/CBC)

  • Ontario's premier and officials to make an announcement at 10:30 ET.
  • Ontario Superior Court to hear submissions on injunction application by auto groups, City of Windsor against Ambassador Bridge protesters.
  • Protesters block only street leading to side entrance of Ambassador Bridge.
  • CBSA says bridge "temporarily closed," diverts commercial traffic to Blue Water Bridge in Sarnia.
  • Protesters block portion of Highway 402 heading toward Blue Water Bridge: OPP.

An Ontario court will hear an injunction Friday seeking to end the now-five-day protest at the Ambassador Bridge international crossing in Windsor, Ont.

The injunction — put forward by auto-industry leaders and backed by the City of Windsor — will be heard by Ontario Superior Court Chief Justice Geoffrey Morawetz at 12 p.m. ET.

On Thursday, Morawetz had issued directives to the city to ensure the injunction was seen by organizers of the protest, telling the city to provide a link where motion materials can be downloaded and viewed, and to issue a news release outlining where the injunction can be heard.

The Ambassador Bridge, which links Windsor to Detroit, is a key trade route between Canada and the U.S., with about $400 million in commercial goods crossing each day.

The key artery feeding the bridge on the Windsor side — Huron Church Road — has been blocked since Monday afternoon by protesters with a variety of concerns, including demands to lift pandemic restrictions.

The Automotive Parts Manufacturers' Association and Canadian Vehicle Manufacturers' Association are the main applicants on the injunction, due to the industry's reliance on the bridge for the exchange of vehicles and parts.

Automakers have been scaling back production on both sides of the border this week due to the protests.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford, along with solicitor general Sylvia Jones, attorney general Doug Downey and Transportation Minister Caroline Mulroney, are set to give an update at 10:30 a.m. ET Friday, as similar protests continue in Ottawa and along Highway 402, heading to the Blue Water Bridge international crossing in Sarnia, Ont.

The White House said U.S. officials had multiple conversations on Thursday with their Canadian counterparts, offering to help the Trudeau government bring an end to the blockade.

"[They] have been engaged around the clock to bring this to a swift end," the White House said in response to questions from CBC News.

Protest a 'national crisis,' says Windsor mayor

Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens is calling the protest an "national crisis" due to the economic impact it's having for both Canada and the U.S.

Speaking with CBC News Friday, the mayor said more police and RCMP are expected to arrive in Windsor today.

"The goal is the preservation of life, I don't want anyone to die over this … at the end of the day we need to find a way to move them peacefully," Dilkens said.

"So there's lots of resources coming, and the goal and objective here is to have their protesters leave voluntarily … we do not want anyone to get hurt…. But if they refuse to leave, steps will have to be taken to remove them."

A photo of the Ambassador Bridge, connecting Windsor to Detroit, is shown on Thursday. The bridge is completely empty to traffic. (Submitted by Andy Breschuk)

The mayor said that if an injunction is granted and police move in, there may be "prospect for arrest."

Dilkens said he worried about tensions rising further, citing an altercation that took place between protesters and police trying to move a car blocking Assumption College Catholic High School — a school in the heart of the protest area. He said a "group with tire irons swarmed the police," who were ultimately able to de-escalate that situation.

"People on the ground here are speaking to media, saying they're willing to fight to the death for the reasons why they're here. And the irony is they're a leaderless group," said Dilkens.

Schools go online over protest concerns

Three Windsor schools are moving to online learning on Friday over concerns that the protest may disrupt traffic.

The change comes after consultation with the Windsor Police Service, which said protesters may be "increasing their presence" around the schools, the local English Catholic board said in a letter to the school communities.

The head of the Windsor-Essex Children's Aid Society took to Twitter Thursday, asking protesters to leave children out of the demonstration.

"Respectfully, please leave your children at home should you choose to participate in the protest at the border. As tensions mount, the threat of disorder is increasing. You do not want your children exposed to this, or to risk their safety," wrote Derrick Drouillard.

Referring to a photo circulating on social media Thursday, Windsor's mayor also showed concern about the potential of children being brought to the protest.

"The fact that I see a picture yesterday where [protesters] brought what looks like a bus of kids to hold hands across Huron Church Road — even though it was blocked — holy moly, I question the sanity in a decision like that," he said.

Dilkens said that he hopes not to have a scene similar to what's been seen in Ottawa, where large numbers of children at tense protests are making it difficult for police to navigate the situation.

"Police are smart. Police are doing all they can. They have lots of intelligence, lots of resources."

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Credit belongs to : www.cbc.ca

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