Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg spoke separately with their Canadian counterparts, “urging them to use federal powers to resolve this situation at our joint border and offering the full support of our Homeland Security and Transportation departments,” a White House official told CNN on Feb. 10.
Homeland Security Advisor Liz Sherwood-Randall is also set to speak with her Canadian counterpart this evening, according to the White House. Meanwhile, President Biden is closely monitoring the situation and “being regularly briefed” on the matter.
“We know that a number of companies and industries are seeing significant impacts from these disruptions,” the official said.
“The Department of Homeland Security, the National Security Council, Department of Transportation and the National Economic Council are working collaboratively—including with their Canadian counterparts at all levels—to rapidly develop a set of options that match current industry demands—including alternative routes and other scenario planning.”
Administration officials are also in “close touch” with stakeholders, including American auto companies, shippers, business and trade associations, labor unions, and agricultural groups, and are “principally focused” on resolving the ongoing blockage at the Ambassador Bridge as well as blockages at other ports of entry, the official said.
The White House’s comments come as blockades continue on the Ambassador Bridge, which serves as a key span connecting Detroit with Windsor, Ontario. Officials say the protests are disrupting the flow of auto parts and other products between the two countries.
The bridge is one of the busiest crossings between Canada and the United States and counts for an estimated 20 percent of all trade between the two countries.
But in recent days, the route has been forced to temporarily shut down due to protests, which officials worry could have potential impacts on the supply chain. The detour port, Port Huron, however, is still fully operational.
Multiple U.S. Automakers including Toyota, Chrysler Pacifica, Ford, and General Motors have also had to pause some production at their Canada plants due to the ongoing protests in recent days, although some have already been able to resume manufacturing.
The protests in Canada initially began as a demonstration by truckers in response to a federal vaccine mandate that went into effect on Jan. 15 for truck drivers, despite staunch opposition.
Since then, the movement has grown to demonstrate against all COVID-19 mandates and restrictions, as more people from different parts of Canada join in. Several protest convoys have been set up in different parts of the country, demanding an end to the mandates.