Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens testifies at Emergency Act inquiry
Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens spent most of the day on the stand at the Emergencies Act inquiry Monday, testing the blockade could have ended a day earlier.
During a text conversation, Dilkens told Safety Minister Marco Mendicino the blockade at the Ambassador Bridge would be over Feb. 12.
“Everything was in place. The resources were in Windsor. The plan had been devised,” said Dilkens, who tested officers started their operation that morning working to end the week long blockade.
The effort was cut short after a frantic call for more support on site was issued by a pastor at Harvest Bible Church. A sudden influx of demonstrators showed up.
“Very quickly what might have been a hundred to two hundred people turned into 600 people including parents with kids and strollers,” said Dilkens.
Officials then decided to wait a day.
“They were being very wise in their approach saying let’s do this at a different time when it makes more sense,” he said.
Dilkens says protesters were a mixture of local residents and out of towners and communication within the larger group was conflicted.
“Part of the issue that we experienced collectively in Windsor is that this was a leaderless movement. There was no one speaking for the group who could guarantee the behavior of the other members,” he said.
The commission heard Monday about the economic importance of the Ambassador Bridge, which saw $390 million in export each day in 2021. The city incurred $5.3 million in expenses from the protest.
“We are shouldering a big expense on the backs of residents in the City of Windsor to deal with what I call a national economic emergency,” Dilkens said.
An emergency he would like the upper levels of government to help pay for.
Dilkens would also like a formal system to be put in place to ensure the responsibilities of all parties involved is clearly understood the next time a situation like this arises.