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Border protests costing time and money; Manitoba eases some restrictions

A blizzard created it's own traffic disruption on Friday, Feb. 12, as trucker protests against vaccine and other COVID-19 related mandates carried on in Canada.

U.S. and Canadian flags fly in Winnipeg, Manitoba, at the provincial capitol, next to trucks with signs protests COVID-19 related government mandates.
U.S. and Canadian flags fly in Winnipeg, Manitoba, at the provincial capitol, next to trucks with signs protests COVID-19 related government mandates.
Contributed / Rick Wall

WINNIPEG, Manitoba — Canada is North Dakota's No. 1 international trading partner and Drew Combs of the North Dakota Trade Office says any impediments to that trade can negative impacts on both side of the border.

"Any kind of disruption like that, regardless of how small, in the whole supply chain causes this ripple effect," Combs said Friday, Feb. 11, after a blockade impeded traffic at the U.S.-Canada border between North Dakota and Manitoba . "It just adds time and money to the equation."

A blizzard created it's own traffic disruption on Friday, Feb. 12, as trucker protests against vaccine and other COVID-19 related mandates carried on in Canada.

Rick Wall, who owns a trucking company out of Winkler, Manitoba, had previously organized a slow-roll protest at the Emerson, Manitoba, Port of Entry, but has moved five of his trucks to Winnipeg to protest at the provincial capitol.

There was welcome news for protesters on Friday, as the Manitoba government announced an easing of restrictions , including the end of a mask mandate as of March 15.
But the federal vaccination require for truck drivers to cross the international border, which went into effect in January, remains in place.

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"Our mission is to get all mandates lifted," Wall said. "We are solidified in our purpose."

Wall still has four trucks in Ottawa, where protesters continue to clog the streets of Canada's capital city. Protesters also have tied a major crossing between Windsor, Ontario, and Detroit.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Friday tweeted that he spoken with U.S. President Joe Biden. "We agreed that, for the security of people and our economies, these blockades cannot continue."

The Canadian Broadcasting Company was reporting that protesters in Manitoba were allowing trucks hauling livestock and medical vehicles through.

Combs laments seeing truckers, already in short supply, being pulled of the roads.

"It's already been tough to get folks with that skill set," Combs said. "If we don't have drivers, we can't move our products."

Reach Jeff Beach at jbeach@agweek.com or call 701-451-5651 (work) or 859-420-1177.
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