International politics can have a large impact on the U.S. despite the fact that they occur beyond the border. Conflict internationally, in particular, can also inhibit U.S. trade and impact the daily lives of Americans.
On Jan. 15, the Canadian government implemented stricter COVID-19 policies requiring full vaccination for all travelers entering the country, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. On Jan. 22, just a week later, the U.S. began a similar policy for non- U.S. citizens crossing the border, according to the Department of Homeland Security. The New York Post reported that protestors blocked the border between the U.S. and Canada for more than two weeks as part of the “Freedom Convoy.” The borders are now fully reopened, however, protests are ongoing in other parts of Canada, according to the New York Post.
The policy changes in Canada were put in place to decrease the spread of the Omicron variant, according to the New York Times.
Protests are ongoing and civilians were, and still are, being threatened by protesters, according to CNN. The New York Times reported that businesses in the area were forced to reduce their work hours and cancel shifts due to delays caused by the protests. The protests led the federal government to take further action.
On Feb. 14, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau invoked the Emergencies Act, according to the Washington Post. Since the implementation of the Emergencies Act in 1988, the Canadian government has not had to use it until now. According to the Washington Post, the act gives the federal government more power to enforce regulations that would otherwise be considered provincial law and therefore not enforced by federal officials.
The Emergencies Act replaced the War Measures Act that was previously in place and according to the Washington Post, the War Measures Act has significant negative feeling s surrounding it, especially in Quebec. The Washington Post reported that the former act did not have enough checks in place and allowed searches and arrests without warrants, which is no longer the case with the Emergencies Act.
The War Measures Act was last used in 1970. After 52 years, the Canadian government was compelled to enact a measure that Trudeau described as “last resort,” according to the New York Times.
All of this should be a cause for concern for Americans, particularly due to the fact that we share a border with Canada. With a blocked border, trade between Canada and the U.S. would halt and that can negatively implicate the food and auto parts industries as well as many others that need access to the border for trade and income.
According to the New York Times, copycat convoys have popped up in other countries like Australia and New Zealand and there is speculation of a convoy occuring in the U.S.
The fact that all of this began due to a vaccine mandate means that it is a very real possibility anywhere and the implications are drastic. For example, with Canada requiring full vaccination to cross the border, approximately 12,000 truck drivers in the U.S. would be unable to travel to Canada according to NBC News.
The protests in Canada bring multiple issues to light involving the ability of federal governments to require COVID-19 vaccines, the freedoms associated with the right to protest and freedom of speech.
Despite the fact that the protest is specific to Canadian laws, the Freedom Convoy has sparked protests worldwide and should be taken seriously even in the United States.