DETROIT - As Canada seeks an injunction to remove protesters blocking traffic on the Ambassador Bridge, the Ontario Premier said he would declare a state of emergency in response to the disruption.
Doug Ford said fines up to $100,000 could be administered for non-compliance, as well as a year in prison.
"To those who have attempted to disrupt our way of life by targeting our lifeline for food, fuel and goods across our borders, to those trying to force a political agenda through disruption, intimidation and chaos, my message to you is this - your right to make a political statement does not outweigh the right of hundreds of thousands of workers to earn their living," Ford said at a news conference.
"It does not outweigh our right to get food across our borders. Your right to make a political statement does not outweigh the rights of one million people in Ottawa to live peacefully, free of harassment and chaos in their own homes."
In a sign of good faith and that the blockade may be lowering, demonstrators have opened a single lane to allow for traffic to flow over the international border. No cars or trucks were passing over the bridge as of 11:30 a.m. Friday.
It's the latest development as day five of the blockade continues to stymie trade and manufacturing for both the U.S. and Canada. The disruption has drawn international news as government and company officials worry about the loss of hundreds of millions of dollars due to material deliver delays.
The Windsor mayor and other an automotive parts manufacturing association both indicated plans to take their complaints to a judge. The Ontario Supreme Court of Justice is expected to consider the request to remove the demonstrators at noon on Friday.
Previous attempts by police to negotiate the protesters had failed this week, Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens said.
A sign of just how immense the pressure on Canada to resolve the disruptions is, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said she was "burning up the phone lines" in her talks with people from the White House and the Canadian Ambassador.
During media appearances Friday morning, she said "we cannot let another minute go by unnecessarily because this border is too important to our economy, to our homeland security, and as we grow our economy, it's a crucial moment."
Dilkens previously said that a third of trade between the two countries was conducted on the Ambassador Bridge.
Michael Foguth, with Foguth Financial Group, said the impact of the blocked bridge will be felt for weeks and possibly months once the protest ends.
"Even if they resolve this as soon as we air this, 10 minutes later we have breaking news, we’re still going to feel this," he said.
He also noted that it is impacting an industry that has been hit hard by the pandemic – the auto industry. The shutdown has led to auto plants halting operations in both nations. Meat and product industries have also been greatly impacted.
"We’re already at pent-up demand. I mean drive by a dealership right now, look at their lots, they’re empty. They need them. You take another four, five, seven days away from them, it's going to be really tough," he said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report