COUTTS, alberta — The community of Coutts in Alberta - just on the other side of the border from Sweet Grass in Montana - remains the scene of a major traffic delay. Semi trucks continue to be backed up for miles as part of what is being called the "Freedom Convoy."
The convoy was started to oppose Canada’s vaccination mandates, which require that truckers entering Canada quarantine for two weeks if passing into the country without a COVID vaccination. The largest part of the convoy arrived in the Canadian capitol of Ottawa on Saturday, with estimates of between 1,000 and 2,000 trucks - and thousands of supporters - fillings the streets.
Hundreds of truckers - and their supporters - are also at the US-Canada border at and near the Sweet Grass/Coutts ports of entry, holding their ground.
MTN News tried to talk with truckers on the U.S. side of the border, but none wanted to be interviewed.
U.S. Customs & Border Protection said in a news release on Monday afternoon (January 31, 2022):
While the Port of Sweet Grass in Montana remains open, the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) has closed the Coutts, Alberta Port of Entry to inbound traffic. As a result, travel north into Canada via the Coutts Port of Entry is currently unavailable. Drivers are advised that even though the Port of Sweet Grass remains open, their ability to enter the U.S. at the border crossing may be impeded by the continued closure of Canadian Highway 4 north of the Port of Entry.
Global News Lethbridge interviewed Luis Restrepo, a trucker who shared his experience of the last few days.
“I’m running out of the fuel in my trailer. I’m worrying about that. I’m carrying produce from Sacramento, California, to Calgary. Pretty much almost 40 hours right now. I crossed the border on Saturday. I’m over 40 hours right now here. I’m stuck just across the border,” Restrepo said.
Bridge City News in Lethbridge talked to several other truckers about how they feel about the current situation.
Pete Wiebe said, “We’re hoping to achieve the end of all mandates for all Canadians.”
Nick Friesen said, “We figured we could do all this kind of stuff at the same time. All those guys going to Ottawa, we can make a stronger and bigger statement.”
George Janzen said, “We’re now in two year and we’re still not getting the results they’re promising. It’s time to stop. It’s time to stop the mandates.”
Dave Bertelsen owns K & K Trucking in Great Falls and says the immediate effects aren’t severe at this point for his business, but added they could add up if nothing changes.
“We have probably two or three loads a week that go up into Calgary. Right now, we’ve got three loads sitting in our yard that were supposed to be delivered Sunday,” Bertelsen said. “It’s food we’re hauling up there so that’s going to impact shelves. On our side of the business, we can store it in our yard for a while. It does impact us obviously. It’s four or so less trailers we can fill and roll with the next day, so yeah, there’s some serious potential for some financial hardships if this keeps up.”
The Ottawa Citizen reported on Monday: "The Canadian Trucking Alliance, the main advocacy body for truckers, has disavowed the protest, saying the vast majority of its members are fully vaccinated and are continuing to work. The core organizers of the protest insist that they are not anti-vaccine but instead oppose mandates that require vaccination for people to work."
- Traffic closed at Coutts-Sweet Grass port of entry
- "Potential travel delays" at Port of Sweetgrass
- People gather on Hi-Line to support 'Freedom Convoy'