​​Convoy protests disrupt auto industry on US-Canada border

Convoy protests demonstrating against COVID-19 protocol have already started to disrupt the auto industry just days into a blockade of trucks on the Ambassador Bridge that connects Windsor, Ontario, and Detroit, The Associated Press reported.

Canadian truck drivers have railed against COVID-19 protocols that require drivers to be fully vaccinated against the virus in order to enter Canada. The protests first ignited last month, but they now have implications for at least one major industry as a multi-day truck blockage is threatening shortages at different plants, according to the news outlet.

General Motors said in a statement that the automaker was impacted by the truck blockage.

"We continue to work with our suppliers to mitigate issues that arise related to the border situation. However, Lansing Delta Township assembly canceled its 2nd shift yesterday and 1st shift today due to parts shortages," GM said.

Stellantis also noted that second shifts at several of their American and Canadian plants had to be reduced due to the truck blockage.

"All Stellantis North America plants are running as of Thursday morning, but a number of U.S. and Canadian plants cut short second shifts Wednesday night due to parts shortages caused by the closure of the Detroit/Windsor bridge," Stellantis said in a statement.

"The situation at the Ambassador Bridge, combined with an already fragile supply chain, will bring further hardship to people and industries still struggling to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. We hope a resolution can be reached soon so our plants and our employees can return to normal operations," the auto company added.

Toyota acknowledged in a statement that it was also impacted by the truck blockade and anticipated disruptions going into the weekend.

"Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada has recently been impacted by issues related to the Ambassador Bridge blockade," the automaker said. "We expect disruptions through the weekend, and we'll continue to make adjustments as needed. While the situation is fluid and changes frequently, we do not anticipate any impact to employment at this time."

The AP noted that several other automakers, including Ford have been impacted by the convoy protests. Ford's Windsor engine plant was forced to shut down due to parts shortages, the company said.

The closure has major trade implications given that a quarter of trade between the U.S. and Canada is transported on the bridge, the news outlet noted.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has slammed the protests, which earned the support of former President Trump and Tesla CEO Elon Musk, saying "it has to stop."

"Canadians have the right to protest, to disagree with their government, and to make their voices heard. We'll always protect that right," Trudeau tweeted on Tuesday. "But let's be clear: They don't have the right to blockade our economy, or our democracy, or our fellow citizens' daily lives. It has to stop."

The Hill has reached out to Ford for comment.

- Updated at 10:36 p.m.