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Joe Biden and Justin Trudeau Hold Emergency Call Over Freedom Convoy

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OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.


President Joe Biden and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau held an emergency phone call on Friday to discuss what to do about Freedom Convoy truckers obstructing one of the busiest international bridges connecting the two countries.

According to reports, both leaders agreed that the blockade was an intolerable disruption of international trade, following a statement by the White House on Thursday calling on Trudeau to “end the truck blockade by Canadians protesting the country’s COVID-19 restrictions,” the AP reported.

Truckers are protesting COVID-19 vaccine mandates throughout the country, though economic pressures caused by the mass protests have led the premiers of Alberta and Saskatchewan to announce an end to them. But Doug Ford, the premier of Ontario, the country’s most populous and home to the capital of Ottawa, has instead announced massive fines of up to $100,000 as well as possible jail time for up to a year for Freedom Convoy protesters while also conceding a pathway to ending the vaccine passports.

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Following the meeting between Biden and Trudeau, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki announced the contents of the call at a press conference.

“The two leaders agreed that the actions of the individuals who are obstructing travel and commerce between our two countries are having significant direct impacts on citizens’ lives and livelihoods,” Psaki said.

“The President expressed his concern that United States companies and workers are experiencing serious effects, including slowdowns in production, shortened work hours, and plant closures,” Psaki continued.

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“The prime minister promised quick action in enforcing the law and the president thanked him for the steps he and other Canadian authorities are taking to restore the open passage of bridges to the United States,” she added.

Trudeau also took to Twitter to announce that he and Biden had spoken about the protests.

“Today, @POTUS Biden and I spoke about the illegal blockades at the border – I updated him on the situation, and we discussed the American and global influence on the protests,” Trudeau noted. “We agreed that, for the security of people and our economies, these blockades cannot continue.”

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In addition, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg have also held talks about the Freedom Convoy protests, urging their Canadian counterparts “to use Federal powers to resolve this situation at our joint border,” the AP report noted.

Reports have noted that in Michigan, automobile plants have been forced to scale back production in part due to the blockage but also due to an unrelated shortage of semiconductor chips.

As such, Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer issued a statement as well condemning the protests.

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“My message is simple: Reopen traffic on the bridge,” she said.

“It is imperative that Canadian local, provincial, and national governments de-escalate this economic blockade,” she added. “They must take all necessary and appropriate steps to immediately and safely reopen traffic so we can continue growing our economy, supporting good-paying jobs and lowering costs for families.”

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Also Friday, Trudeau claimed that the bridge protest was an economic blockade and thus illegal, adding that he had the authority to bring the full power of the Canadian government to bear in order to end it.

“If you’ve joined the protest because you’re tired of COVID, you now need to understand you are breaking laws,” he said, noting further that “the consequences are becoming more and more severe.”

“The border cannot and will not remain closed,” Trudeau added. “Everything is on the table because this unlawful activity has to end and it will end.”

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