Canadian truckers tying up downtown Ottawa and blocking US-Canadian border crossings are creating serious problems for both Canada and the United States. The protest has been ongoing now for two weeks in Ottawa and has also been wreaking havoc at border crossings in BC, Alberta, Manitoba and Ontario. The truckers, who are protesting government Covid-19 vaccination mandates, are causing economic dislocations in the Canadian nation’s capital, creating supply chain disruptions for the auto industry, causing huge losses for businesses in the US and Canada, and threatening to cause layoffs of workers . Furthermore, the showdown is also inspiring similar protests in the US, Australia, New Zealand and Europe.
According to the New York Times, “The Ottawa demonstrations have also become a rallying cry for powerful far-right and anti-vaccine groups around the world. Prominent far-right figures in numerous countries, including the United States, Australia and Germany, have praised the protests, spreading the images and arguments even more widely. Some, including in the United States, want to replicate the protests. Donors have contributed millions of dollars meant for the Canadian protesters in online campaigns.”
Clearly displeased by developments and speaking in the House of Commons, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau accused the truckers of “trying to blockade our economy, our democracy and our fellow citizens’ daily lives.”
Moderation So Far
So far, police have taken a moderate approach to dealing with the truckers, wanting to avoid the outbreak of violence. They have started ticketing protesters in Ottawa and laying charges in isolated instances. However, as time drags on, it is more likely that protesters will be charged with various criminal offences. One recent news report indicated that, “nearly 80 criminal investigations have been opened in relation to the protests, including for alleged hate crimes and property damage. Some two dozen people have been arrested.”
Problems With Future Entries Into The USA
When these truckers are not blocking ports of entry to the United States, however, many of them transport goods across the border and drive down to the US to pursue their livelihood. This is where things get complicated. Even just being charged with a crime in Canada could potentially result in a denial of entry at the US border, depending on the nature of the crime alleged or the number of charges involved. It is enough if a border official concludes that the applicant has unwittingly admitted conduct amounting to the elements of the crime, even if no conviction has been made, to be denied US entry. Similarly, a trucker who admits being charged with a hate crime, for example, could face problems entering the US
What is more, what may seem like relatively minor charges to the person concerned could result in a bar from entry. For example, even in circumstances where the commission of just one minor criminal offense is insufficient to lead to a denial of entry, two such Canadian summary convictions, even if they arise out of the same event, could lead to a denial of entry. Being blocked from entering the United States can have serious implications for truckers.
Fortunately for the truckers, a substantial sum of money has been raised to support their efforts. That being the case, they will be able to pay for legal fees associated with obtaining waivers of inadmissibility. While it is possible to obtain a waiver of inadmissibility in such circumstances, even with legal help, getting an approval of such a waiver can take a long time—sometimes longer than a year. Without the waiver it is not possible to enter the United States in these circumstances. In these cases, the trucker would be barred from entering the US not only for work, but also be blocked from travel to the United States for vacations until the waiver is obtained.
Hopefully the protest will be resolved reasonably soon and for most truckers, they will not be charged with any offences. In most instances little harm will have been done and truckers will not have impaired their ability to travel to the US A solution will be worked out and reason will prevail. In the meantime, there is no doubt the truckers made their point. And after all, wasn’t that the reason for the protest in the first place?