WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The Biden administration on Thursday urged Canada to use federal powers to ease the disruption at the U.S.-Canada border caused by a protest against anti-coronavirus mandates that has blocked a vital U.S.-Canada trade route, a White House official said.
“(U.S. Homeland Security) Secretary (Alejandro) Mayorkas and (Transportation Secretary Pete) Buttigieg each spoke with their Canadian counterparts, urging them to use Federal powers to resolve this situation at our joint border,” the official said in a statement.
The Biden administration is mainly focused on ending the blockage at the Ambassador Bridge, which connects Detroit and Windsor, Ontario, as well as at other ports of entry, the official said. The bridge is one of North America’s busiest border crossings and a supply route for Detroit’s carmakers.
Canadian truckers started the protests as a “Freedom Convoy” occupying the capital Ottawa in opposition to a vaccinate-or-quarantine mandate for cross-border drivers mirrored by the U.S. government. They began blocking the Ambassador Bridge on Monday and have since shut two smaller border crossings.
The U.S. Homeland Security Department is adding staff to its command post at the National Football League’s Super Bowl in Los Angeles in response to reports of a convoy that could cause disruptions at Sunday’s game, the official, who provided the statement on condition of anonymity, said.
The department is also aware of reports of a convoy event in Washington, D.C., in early March and “is taking all necessary steps” to ensure it doesn’t disrupt transportation or the federal government, according to the official.
“At this time, we have no indication that individuals involved are engaged in anything other than First Amendment-protected activity,” the official said.
(Reporting by Steve Holland; writing by Costas Pitas and Eric Beech; editing by Tim Ahmann and Sandra Maler)