If you’re trying to cross the Canada/U.S. border at Emerson, Man., on Thursday, be prepared for some delays.
Drivers in the area are reporting that a slow-moving convoy is delaying traffic, with one trucking company telling 680 CJOB it’s had two trucks waiting at the border for more than six hours.
RCMP confirmed the blocked border is due to a demonstration involving a large number of vehicles and farm equipment, and said Thursday afternoon that officers are still trying to negotiate with organizers, with no timeline for when the blockade could end.
Sgt. Paul Manaigre said the latest reports are that approximately 50 vehicles are participating in the convoy, including semis, farm equipment, heavy equipment, and even smaller vehicles like snowmobiles.
“Our main function now is to maintain the peace,” he said.
“Hopefully it will be (over) quick, but that’s where our dialogue has to come in and hopefully we can negotiate and get these vehicles moving.”
Manaigre said his understanding is that the demonstrators are calling for similar changes to those in protests across the country.
“It’s the mandates — they want everything lifted, everyone wants things back to normal.
“I understand that, but please be patient. Is not the end goal to keep people out of hospitals so nurses and doctors have less people to treat?
“I think we’re almost there, so patience is the key word here.”
Global News photographers on the scene report some traffic is still moving through the protest, mostly commercial trucks headed north towards Winnipeg.
Manitoba Transportation and Infrastructure said an “event” is occurring on Highway 75 at the border, but didn’t elaborate, other than saying you should expect delays if you’re trying to cross.
680 CJOB listener Holly says she tried to cross from the United States into Canada on Wednesday night, but was turned around.
“There were so many trucks (at a local truck stop near the border) that there was nowhere to park, but (the truck stop owner) told us we could try to cross at Gretna.”
“We were able to get to Gretna, and we were first in line when the border opened at 8 a.m. this morning, so we could make it to our drop in Altona.”
Grain hauler Corey wasn’t as lucky.
“We’re stuck in these blizzard-like conditions here, and as far as I can see there are trucks stuck behind me.”
“They’ve got the road blocked both ways at this 200 junction (about 3 k.m. from the border).”
Corey says he’d been in the lineup since 7:30 a.m. Thursday.
Manaigre said the blockade is illegal under the Highway Traffic Act, but it becomes a question of enforcement.
Listeners have told Global News some of the vehicles on the scene don’t have anyone inside of them.
Manaigre says towing those vehicles is an option, but not a good one.
“You tow one semi, (for) which the logistics are quite extensive, then another takes its place… you’re only inflaming the situation.”
Manaigre says as his officers try to negotiate a peaceful solution, he hopes the organizers begin letting traffic through on the busy highway.
“They want to make a statement, we have a right to let them make that statement, but at some point that discussion needs to lead to some progress at some point.”
“They’re not helping themselves if they’re preventing other truckers from working.”
Ron Koslowsky with the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters Association says the blockade prevents the shipment of key supplies, and said his organization is encouraging governments to bring and end to blockades and disruptions nationwide.
“Manitoba manufacturing is already struggling with labour shortages and massive supply chain disruptions,” he said.
“These blockades continue to do a lot of damage to our sector at a time when we can least afford it.”