Hundreds of police on Feb. 13 moved in to end a six-day standoff at the foot of the Ambassador Bridge in Windsor, Ont., arresting close to 50 blockaders who paralyzed Canada’s auto industry.
As truck traffic resumed crossing the Detroit River later that night through the reinforced corridor, the industry tallied the cost to production and weighed the new threat to Canadian competitiveness. Estimated losses to cross-border automotive trade ranged from more than $383 million to $1 billion, but some stakeholders fear the toll will be even greater for the future of Canada’s auto sector.
“You don’t go play the Super Bowl with 10 guys on your side of the ball. That’s what we’re doing now,” said Flavio Volpe, president of the Automotive Parts Manufacturers’ Association (APMA).
In every capital investment or vehicle-program discussion going forward, Volpe said, Canada will enter shorthanded, with the blockade being a risk that must be “addressed if not mitigated.”
The global auto industry was already keeping close watch on where it parks its North American investment, said David Adams, president of the Global Automakers of Canada, which represents the interests of overseas car companies.
Two years of pandemic-related shipping and production disruptions have made shortening supply chains a priority, he said. The blockade will become another factor that global investors consider when deciding on a locale for their spending.
“It’s just one more thing that gets added to the whole equation,” Adams said.