Republican James Craig Sides With Canadian Anti-Vaxxers Over Michigan Auto Workers

By Keya Vakil

February 14, 2022

It cost local auto workers as much as $51 million in wages last week, but Craig—a GOP candidate for governor and a former police chief—supported the illegal blockade of the Ambassador Bridge.

Need to Know

  • General Motors, Ford, Toyota all had to shut down some operations in places like Lansing and Delta Township because of the blockade.
  • Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said Craig’s statement was “abhorrent” considering he previously served in law enforcement.
  • Canadian police finally cleared protesters from the bridge on Sunday, allowing it to reopen after nearly a week of protests. 

MICHIGAN–Republican candidate for Michigan governor James Craig on Friday said he stood with the anti-vaccine protesters and truckers who for days illegally blocked the Ambassador Bridge border crossing, wreaking havoc on the economy and leading to millions of dollars in lost wages for Michigan auto workers. 

Craig, Detroit’s former police chief, issued a statement blaming the protesters’ illegal actions on Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, President Joe Biden, and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

“I stand with the truckers,” Craig said. “It’s on Whitmer, Biden and Trudeau to show some leadership and make things right. Their demonization of truckers and working people just reinforces the fact that they are beholden to special interests and the permanent political class.”

In reality, both Whitmer and the White House made clear they support individuals’ right to protest—but not the economic harm the illegal blockade was causing.  

“We respect protesters’ right to protest, [but] what they don’t have is the right to bring an economy to its knees, to put a lot of people out of work,” Whitmer told ABC7 last week.

Craig did not address the protest’s impact on Michigan’s working class, even though local auto workers may have lost as much as $51 million in wages last week due to the blockade of the border. Instead, the former law enforcement official sided with the deeply unpopular anti-vaccine protesters who were acting in defiance of the law.

Whitmer, meanwhile, spent much of last week working to resolve the blockade in order to help working people in Michigan. She called on Canadian authorities to end the blockade and reopen the bridge and offered heavy equipment, security, and other resources to assist in ending the blockade. 

RELATED: Michigan Auto Workers Could Lose $51 Million in Wages This Week Because of Anti-Vaccine Blockades at Canadian Border

Canadian police finally cleared protesters from the bridge on Sunday, allowing it to reopen after nearly a week of protests. 

On Monday, Whitmer celebrated the reopening.

“This is a win for Michigan’s working families who are just trying to do their jobs and for businesses who can get back to shipping their products and produce,” Whitmer said in a statement. “I will always stand with every hardworking Michigander and do whatever it takes to ensure that our businesses can keep humming along.”

How Michigan Republicans Rushed to Support the Illegal Anti-Vaxx Blockade Harming the Local Economy

The economic impacts of the occupation were severe. Every day, about 10,000 trucks transport an estimated $325 million worth of goods across the Ambassador Bridge—about $50 million of which is automotive parts, according to the Michigan Department of Treasury.

Several auto plants in Canada had to shut down last week, affecting the ability of factories in Michigan to remain operational. General Motors, Ford, Toyota all had to shut down some operations in places like Lansing and Delta Township because the blockades meant the plants were unable to get parts manufactured in Canada.  

The blockade arose after a similar protest in Ottawa, where truckers and a constellation of anti-vaccine protesters lashed out at a vaccine mandate for truckers entering Canada from the US. For nearly three weeks, they’ve parked their trucks in the middle of intersections, blocking traffic and bringing daily life to a standstill as they demand the end of pandemic protections and vaccine mandates and the resignation of Canada Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. 

Their actions–which include flying confederate and Nazi flags, harssing citizens, and forcing small businesses to close–have drawn widespread condemnation in Canada, where roughly 80% of residents, including nearly 90% of truckers, are fully vaccinated. In the US, however, many Republican politicians who have embraced anti-vaccine talking points and conspiracy theories have rushed to express support for the unlawful protests.

While other Michigan Republicans–including fellow gubernatorial candidates Garrett Soldano and Tudor Dixon–also expressed support for the illegal blockade, Craig’s statement drew an especially sharp rebuke from Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, a Democrat, who said Craig’s statement was “abhorrent” considering he previously served in law enforcement.

“Laws should be applied and enforced equally to everyone, irrespective of the motivation of those in violation of the law,” Nessel tweeted. “This is why so many now feel free to disregard statutes which keep our society safe.”

Nessel also called out the hypocrisy of Republicans labeling themselves the party of “law and order” when they support “lawlessness, insurrection, and anarchy.”

Author

  • Keya Vakil

    Keya Vakil is the deputy political editor at COURIER. He previously worked as a researcher in the film industry and dabbled in the political world.

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