A year later, the blocking of the Ambassador Bridge continues to damage Canada's reputation

Spread the love

A year later, the blocking of the Ambassador Bridge continues to damage Canada's reputation

Trucks immobilized on the Ambassador Bridge between Windsor and Detroit, due to blockage, in February 2022

< source srcset="https://images.radio-canada.ca/q_auto,w_115/v1/personnalites-rc /1x1/anne-marie-trickey.jpeg" media="(min-width: 0px) and (max-width: 99999px)"/>

The blocking of the Ambassador Bridge in February 2022 had a significant impact on the Canadian economy as well as on the trade relationship between Canada and the United States. A year later, the consequences of the blockage are still being felt in the automotive sector, especially in terms of Canada's reputation internationally.

A protester blocking the Ambassador Bridge in Windsor (File photo)

The blocking of the Ambassador Bridge in Windsor began on February 7, 2022. A few days later, on February 11, the Ontario Superior Court granted an interlocutory injunction to the auto industry to end the blocking.

Windsor Police later cleared the protesters on February 13. The next day marked the full resumption of traffic on this crucial cross-border link between Canada and the United States.

This blockage therefore only lasted six days.

People in the protest area were at risk of arrest. Windsor police were advising them to leave the scene. (File photo)

But the consequences are still being felt, especially in the automotive sector.

For us, the losses were around $300,000 during the lockdown, and we're a small business, says Jonathon Azzopardi, president of Laval International in Windsor.

“During the lockdown, companies were making decisions that had the potential to be revenue streams for the next 5-10 years. And many of the investments stayed in the United States.

— Jonathon Azzopardi, President of Laval International

The auto parts maker says operations have since resumed. What remains, according to him, is rather the impact on Canada's reputation internationally.

Our reputation will never be the same again. Many American companies wonder why set up in Canada when you can do it in the United States for almost the same price, he says. It's a label that will stick, especially since this story has made international headlines.

Jonathon Azzopardi is the president of auto parts manufacturer Laval International in Windsor.

Canadian Automotive Parts Manufacturers Association President Flavio Volpe echoes Azzopardi's comments.

The blocking of the Ambassador Bridge sent a message internationally that says: ''If people with nothing better to do can shut down the most important industry in North America, maybe we shouldn't trust the Canadian supply chain, he says.

Our challenge is this: When auto companies are making their strategic decisions about where to locate and where to invest, some of them may be thinking that Canada and Windsor in particular are not a reliable place, he explains. -il.

The Ambassador Bridge in January 2023.

Flavio Volpe also says LG Energy Solution and Stellantis' new battery plant in Windsor is more accountable since the lockdown.

We have to give them reports, which include a report from the Municipality of Windsor, since they manage the police force. This was never the case before, says Mr. Volpe.

While Canada's reputation has been tarnished by the blocking of the Ambassador Bridge, these effects are also felt at the local, according to Windsor-Essex Chamber of Commerce President Rakesh Naidu.

The Windsor-Essex region is an integral part of the supply chain, especially in the automotive sector. The blockade threatened relations between manufacturers and suppliers on both sides of the border and left doubts in the minds of Americans, he said.

Rakesh Naidu is the President of the Windsor-Essex Regional Chamber of Commerce.

The president of the chamber of commerce indicates that the region has more than 1,000 manufacturing companies and nearly 90% of them export their products to the United States.

One ​​year after the blocking the bridge, which is the busiest land link between Canada and the United States, Naidu admits, however, that businesses are a little less nervous.

The companies understand that it was a one-time situation, but they still ask what was done to prevent it from happening again, he explains. You often have to take the time to reassure them.

Rakesh Naidu adds that the automotive sector has always been very integrated between Windsor and Detroit, and this is still the case today, despite the consequences of blocking.

According to Marta Leardi-Anderson, the director of the Cross Border Institute at the University of Windsor, some American voices were rising during the lockdown to challenge the need for such an integrated auto manufacturing sector in the Windsor and Detroit region. .

But the supply chain conversation has since evolved, according to the researcher.

Marta Leardi-Anderson is the Director of the Cross Border Institute at the University of Windsor.

The focus is now more on supply chain security at the University. North American scale, especially due to political events around the world, such as the war in Ukraine, says Leardi-Anderson.

“Canada and the United States are intimately linked by the automotive sector in the Windsor and Detroit region. It is not really possible to separate them.

—Marta Leardi-Anderson, Director of the Cross Border Institute

The researcher adds that the new Gordie-Howe International Bridge, which is due to be completed by 2024, will help to reduce the scope of such occurrences in the future.

With the new bridge, the infrastructure provided to cross from Windsor to Detroit will help to mitigate the risk of such occurrences. impact of events like last year's lockdown, if it ever happens again, she says.

For its part, the provincial government adopted in April 2022 a law that protects cross-border links against such manifestations in the future. This now allows police forces to intervene quickly as soon as a disruption involves trade links at the border.