Trucker-led protests against coronavirus restrictions in Canada shut down a new US border crossing on Thursday, as copycat movements gathered steam as far afield as Europe and New Zealand.

The border blockades have already impacted business, with the key Ambassador Bridge linking Ontario and Detroit shut for several days — and major automakers forced to cut back production at several plants as a result.

Citing supply shortages, Ford said it was forced to slow production at factories in Canada, while some Stellantis factories in the United States and Canada halted work Wednesday evening, and Toyota said its plants were also hit.

An anti-vaccine protest turned ugly Thursday in Wellington, with police clashing with demonstrators in the grounds of parliament and more than 120 people arrested.

Paris police moved to prevent the demonstration, saying they would ban so-called “Freedom Convoys” and would stop roads from being blocked, threatening hefty fines or jail.

Canada’s self-styled “Freedom Convoy” began last month in the country’s west — launched in anger at requirements that truckers either be vaccinated, or test and isolate, when crossing the US-Canada border.

Trudeau has warned the border blockades are unacceptable and vowed to “do everything to bring them to an end.”

– ‘Canadian pride’ –

“As our economies emerge from the impacts of the pandemic we cannot allow any group to undermine the cross-border trade,” the Canada, Economy, Vaccinations, Mandate, COVIDgroups said in a joint statement.

Presumably eager to stop the movement spreading further at home, several provinces including Alberta, Quebec and Saskatchewan this week announced a gradual lifting or loosening of Covid-19 restrictions.

And on Wednesday, Ottawa police warned protesters they could face criminal charges and their trucks could be seized if they continue their “unlawful” clogging of downtown streets.

Dennis Elgie, a curling ice technician who came from Toronto to join the protest, called the movement “fantastic.”

“I think people have taken the freedom that we had.”

“We’re not going anywhere,” said trucker John Deelstra, smiling from behind the wheel of his big rig, which has been there since day one.

“I’m not going anywhere,” he told AFP.

Extracted in full from: Canada truckers block new border crossing, fuel copycat protests | — Australia’s leading news site