Auto plants shut down as protesters block border crossing

The Biden administration is urging Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government to use its federal powers to end a truck blockade by Canadians protesting pandemic restrictions that is tightening the screws on the auto industry.

Ford, General Motors and other car companies have shut down plants or otherwise scaled back production on both sides of the U.S. border after the protest disrupted the flow of auto parts and other products across the border.

The bumper-to-bumper demonstration is in its fourth day at the Ambassador Bridge connecting Windsor, Ontario, to Detroit. Canada-bound traffic was halted while U.S.-bound traffic was still moving.

The mayor of Windsor, Ontario said Thursday he’s seeking a court injunction to end the protest. Mayor Drew Dilkens said the situation is an occupation and "it must end."

"These individuals on site are trespassing on municipal property and if need be, will be removed to allow for the safe and efficient movement of goods across the border," Dilkens said.

Earlier, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer issued a statement calling on Canadian authorities to take the steps necessary to reopen the border, saying the blockade is having a significant impact on her state’s working families.

"It is imperative that Canadian local, provincial, and national governments de-escalate this economic blockade. They must take all necessary and appropriate steps to immediately and safely reopen traffic," she wrote.

GM canceled the second shift on Wednesday and the first shift on Thursday at its SUV factory outside Lansing, Michigan.

In Canada, Ford says parts shortages forced it to shut down its engine plant in Windsor and to run an assembly plant in Oakville, Ontario, on a reduced schedule.

Toyota said it will not be able to manufacture anything at three Canadian plants for the rest of the week because of parts shortages.

Honda said that its assembly plant in Alliston, Ontario, north of Toronto, had to suspend production on one assembly line on Wednesday, but that it was back in operation Thursday.

Stellantis, formerly Fiat Chrysler, said all of its North American factories were running Thursday, but shortages because of the blockade forced it to shorten shifts at several plants.