The Inside Story of the Canadian Trucker Protests—Andrew Peloso and Jeremy Regoto
“You could tell they were fighting for something bigger than just becoming a viral hit overnight or trying to take power. They were fighting for their families. They didn’t have a job to go back to, so this was their last shot. … They really meant it when they parked on those streets of Ottawa.”
I sit down with Andrew Peloso and Jeremy Regoto, directors of the new docuseries “Trucking for Freedom.” They take us inside what they witnessed and captured at the frontlines of the Freedom Convoy trucker protests in Canada.
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Jan Jekielek: Andrew Peloso, Jeremy Regoto, such a pleasure to have you on American Thought Leaders.
Jeremy Regoto: Oh, it’s such a pleasure to be here with you.
Andrew Peloso: Thanks for your time.
Mr. Jekielek: Well, I’ve been watching the first episode of “Trucking for Freedom: How We Got Here,” right? It’s an intro into something big that you guys are in the process of creating as we go. I’m thrilled, actually, that we can have it on Epoch TV on our platform as it emerges.
Mr. Regoto: Yes. We’re very excited to be able to not only tell the story, but to partner with Epoch TV and air this as far and as broad as possible. It’s a story for everyone, so we just can’t express our gratitude enough.
Mr. Jekielek: Let’s start here. Okay. The people that ended up part of this whole trucking for freedom thing, the Freedom Convoy, it’s quite an eclectic and diverse group, I’ve learned, having talked to many people that have participated in it now. But how is it that you guys got into this?
Mr. Peloso: I first got into it with my father sending me a link one night and he said, “Isn’t it beautiful that truckers are bringing the cause for freedom to Ottawa?” This idea of the amount of trucks and vehicles, this massive pilgrimage, all the way to Ottawa on the highway was genuinely fascinating.
And from a cinematic angle, something that I thought, wow, I’d be remiss to not capture that. So I started digging into it and immediately I called Jeremy and I said, “Jeremy, I know we have a thousand things to do, but I think I’m dropping everything and going to Ottawa. Would you consider coming with me?” And like only Jeremy can do, he said, “I’m 95 percent there, but let me sleep on it. I’ll call you back in the morning.” And he called me back and he says, “Yeah, I just changed all my plans and I’m with you, bro, so let’s go make this documentary.”
And we knew nothing more than that. We had spoken to some of the organizers of which this is a very grassroots endeavor. It was very hard multiple times through this story to pin out who the actual leaders were in this endeavor. It was very eclectic. So we reached out to this gentleman, James ,with Canada Unity, and we pitched to him, we said, “Would you let us have a behind the scenes view on what’s happening with this Freedom Convoy?” And we met him in Calgary as the Western Convoy Trail was coming out of Vancouver, met him that evening and got ready to go on the convoy.
It has been, I don’t know, months from that day, but this has been a nonstop project that we’ve both been devoted to and have an amazing film crew that’s come along board to bring their expertise and knowledge. And we’re so excited that this story is getting out. It’s a real human story. It really is a story of hope and a story of standing up for truth amidst very credible fears and very credible threats.
Mr. Jekielek: So all you had to do was sleep on it and you’re kind of giving away the end of the first episode actually, right? Because we didn’t know that he said yes, quite yet, but Jeremy, what was it that was going through your head that night?
Mr. Regoto: That night, I was a little bit caught off guard, to be honest, when I chatted with Andrew because he was supposed to be on vacation. In my head, I’m thinking to myself, oh my gosh, I have so much stuff to do, but in the same breath we were going through quite a few mandates in our province, in our country that were restricting my friend here because I ended up getting vaccinated.
I can comfortably say against my will and felt coerced to do so, but a number of my friends, including Andrew, my girlfriend at that point in time, still my girlfriend, but she was unvaccinated. And that’s where my heart was, was if it means something to Andrew, if it means something to Carrera, if it means something to 10 million people here in Canada, then it means something to me too.
But I’m incredibly glad that we were there to be able to capture the truth because the honest truth is if we were not there, the truth wasn’t going to get captured the way that it did. It felt like an incredible mandate was put on us, an incredible call was put on us to be chroniclers of this event, nothing more, not to try to taint it with our own thoughts, with our own picture. We want to be able to showcase every individual and every action in this movement as it truly happened. And I think that’s why we’re getting so much traction with this film is because we’re actually trying to tell the truth. And I think people are sick of hearing bias and they want to hear the truth.
[Sound bite/Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus]: The decision about whether or not to declare a public health emergency of international concern is one I take extremely seriously. And one I am only prepared to make with appropriate consideration of all the evidence.
[Sound bite]: That was what it was, it tried to buy us time is where that two weeks to flatten the curve came from. It was a sincere effort to try to save lives or prevent deaths.
[Sound bite]: They had actually shut everything down. And I was like, whoa, what’s going on here. But honestly, I thought it would be temporary. I didn’t think it was going to be anything sustainable.
[Sound bite]: The idea of locking everybody down for two years, that’s not part of any response plan.
[Sound bite]: They’re going to kill the very businesses that we depended on to keep the economy going.
[Sound bite]: And there were truckers. They didn’t say we’re going to go to Ottawa and demand that we’re allowed to travel again across the border. They didn’t go there for themselves. They went there for all of us.
[Sound bite]: This is where it gets really interesting.
Mr. Jekielek: So Jeremy, when we were speaking offline, you mentioned to me that you were caught off guard in terms of who the truckers actually ended up being. You had a vision in your mind of what truckers were, but that really changed as you entered the fray. Tell me about that.
Mr. Regoto: When this idea first came to conception and we decided that we were going to go film this thing, the first thing I thought of is okay, what kind of people are we going to be embedded with? You think truckers, you think burley, rugged, maybe a little rough around the edges. I don’t know, it almost gave me a little bit of nervousness to be honest. Who are we actually going to be spending this time with?
And as soon as we met the first few people and they just opened up with such expression of love and total acceptance of everyone that was involved with the movement because you have to understand this wasn’t a group of one type of people. This was a group of every single different type of race, every religion, every people group, you could imagine.
The truckers aren’t just what you stereotypically think about. And then above and beyond that, it wasn’t just truckers that were part of this movement. It was families. It was, again, groups of sikhs. It was every race you could imagine. The diversity was astounding and it honestly surprised me. It warmed my heart. And, again, the consistent theme of unity was, very, very, very, very well represented by this group. And it was a shock. It was a surprise, but it was a very exciting surprise.
Mr. Jekielek: So Andrew, tell me about this a bit. The question of the media is really fascinating because one of you mentioned a little bit earlier that if you hadn’t done this, if you hadn’t done this, there would be a much grosser misrepresentation of the reality of what actually happened during the trucker movement. And so tell me about that and why and what you’re seeing.
Mr. Peloso: Yeah, that’s a really important question. So I think with media, there’s obviously a news cycle and they were trying to hide this story clearly at every turn. I think, also, based on valid concern, that there are a lot of people in this convoy. I think they had knowledge of that. And I think the emphasis was going to be faced around making sure that this doesn’t get too out of hand that not too many people show up in Ottawa. So I think there was some calculation there for media.
What we wanted to do and where we feel our little part is, is just to make a documentary that represents this as a historical event because it truly is a historical event. There’s never been something like this where people have jumped on the highway and had a sustained peaceful demonstration for that amount of time in Canada and regardless of a particular ideology or political view, we just wanted to burn that into history as far as this happened and credentialize it. That was our focus.
So we saw the news and that’s a big story in and of itself, one that will be covered in subsequent chapters of this docuseries is the media’s involvement. And I think our style as filmmakers is to posit an idea for consideration, not to try and change anyone’s view. And I think it’s an important conversation.
[What] Canadians and Americans alike should be having is, what do I think as the result of news and media messaging I receive and what importance do I put on that? And is there healthy discernment happening about trying to get information that can encourage a more thoughtful way of life, let’s say? So we’re hoping to do that the long game, right, of creating a documentary that encourages people in the next generation to see what happened here in Canada. It spread like wildfire and across the world and we want that to be represented.
Mr. Jekielek: Well, I guess the question I have is how similar or different. It was certainly different, okay, the legacy media coverage of what happened on route to Ottawa, in Ottawa and so forth relative to your experience as you were basically doing the production of this documentary?
Mr. Regoto: Yeah. So I think there were different stages right off the bat and you have to break it up into two different groups of media. We’ll talk about legacy media for now being Canadian media because there was a difference between Canadian media and international media.
The Canadian media did not want to represent this at all. They didn’t want to notarize it. They didn’t want to acknowledge it. It was basically null and that fact has been verified over and over and over again by people in the media that tried to talk about this and were let go because they talked about this on radio stations, on television stations. There are countless contacts that we have that lost their jobs because they basically just reported on this in the early days.
So there’s Canadian media right off the bat that’s trying to hide this. There is international media that’s trying to get a grasp on what’s going on—in the states, especially north of the border. They’re wondering what on earth is going on because there were a lot of Americans that were trying to support the Canadian truckers and they were heading towards border crossings and they were trying to come to Ottawa.
So we found ourselves talking to international media more than we were talking to Canadian media right off the bat. And I think the only reason that the Canadian media started to acknowledge this was because they couldn’t hide it anymore because it went international so broad. And then when they did realize that they couldn’t hide it, they put a spin on it. They took Justin Trudeau’s words, these racist, misogynistic, terrorist, small fringe minority, and they just blasted and repeated that on repeat over and over and over again.
Mr. Regoto: And that’s what the Canadian media reported on. And we were watching on the ground, no joke. We were watching the Canadian legacy media pointing cameras the opposite way. You have some grace for media because they’re trying to tell a story and you’re not going to get it right. You’re not going to get it a hundred percent right. No matter what. But what they were doing was blatant and obvious opposite to fact.
They were pointing cameras the opposite way, telling opposite narratives of what was happening on the ground. And that is the honest truth. The only people that covered this well were live streamers on the ground sharing what was happening, a few different reporters that came in as independents and then international media.
We were online with people in Germany, Australia, throughout the United States, all around the world. Everyone wanted to know what was going on except for the Canadian media and that was an incredible surprise. We always knew that there was a lean in media. That’s obvious to anyone who’s willing to open up their eyes and look for it, but to realize the level of propaganda that we’re under here in Canada was frightening.
Mr. Jekielek: What would you say was, if there’s one big lesson that you learned here throughout the course of this, that of course we’ll get to discover over the coming months, weeks, and months, as you create this, what would it be?
Mr. Regoto: Well, there’s so many lessons that we learned through this adventure. We’re still learning. And I think we’ll never stop learning around this topic. I think one of the most important lessons that I’ve learned is that with large government comes larger control and with more division. There is more and more justified control. The more that we can be split and diverted, the more that an overarching governmental body can justify coming in to make sure that these two groups don’t destroy each other.
But with that, we’re seeing more and more push because there’s more and more justification for this. I think the biggest lesson that I’ve learned is that a unified front with people, with a free society is the most powerful thing in the world, that they have no control if people stand together and respect each other for their views, their differences in opinions.
And we can appreciate all humans, all people, all groups for what they are [and] love each other unconditionally. And I think the biggest message that I took away from this, trust me as somebody who stood very libertarian and ready to just crawl into a foxhole when I saw the world started to fall apart, it’s the most unlikely thing that I can say I took away from this, but the honest truth is that a unified front is the most powerful thing we can do. And an unconditional love for our fellow man is the most important message that we can continue to pass on.
Mr. Jekielek: Andrew, there’s a woman towards the end of the documentary, one of the people featured, and she mentions how something like she has the utmost compassion for the people who aren’t able to see a different perspective. That’s a paraphrase of what she says, but I thought that was very interesting. It speaks a little bit to what Jeremy’s talking about here.
Mr. Peloso: Yes. It’s a great comment. One I love in the film as well. I think the importance of that statement is that she’s identifying a few things. I truly believe, just to kind of come back to what Jeremy’s saying, is that all of us, regardless of what we believe in, we need to slowly lose interest in the clear obsession towards ideology and picking a side.
I think it totally disregards the human experience when we get that pitted against each other for a different political view or different thoughts and beliefs. And that is really what cancel culture is about, which we’re seeing through this story is someone thinks something that is considered unacceptable and taboo in a certain period of time and as a result of that, they are canceled and they are not just canceled online by a couple nasty comments. They become unemployable.
This is a serious problem. And I think the reality of that, it sounds so nuts, sounds so crazy enough that people who have relied on institutional media and have relied on that to frame their worldview for a long amount of time, it is a violating experience to have to realize that you are being fed propaganda. That is a shock to anyone, regardless of how discerning or good-hearted.
I think that is the crux of the issue. And I think that’s why she was expressing that she truly has compassion for people who are not seeing another side of the story. They’re seeing it as purely a vax versus unvax issue or a bunch of blue collar truckers pitted against the political types, the well to-do. And it’s not that, right? What we saw and witnessed with our cameras and that’s what we’re going to show for every chapter is just the reality, the human story of this movement that was full of mistakes too, by the way. This was not well put together [and] was very chaotic, right?
These were people that probably, as far as their background, there were a lot of people that had no business being on a board that was managing that much influence to Canada and the world. But we need to have compassion. This is a painful process for people to go through realizing that they have been lied to. It’s a violating feeling
Mr. Jekielek: Well, so this is actually something that I found really fascinating that in the U.S, earlier we had Black Lives Matter protests, many of them became riots, which had the appearance of being grassroots, but in reality, we learned subsequently were funded by incredible amounts of money, very specific organizations.
Here we have, what you’re saying, is something that was actually genuinely grassroots to the point where it was having trouble staying organized in the first place because it was so grassroots, but being portrayed perhaps as being some kind of nefarious conspiracy against the government.
Mr. Regoto: Oh, that’s so incredibly accurate. It’s wild how accurate that actually is. As we’re driving across the country, we’re embedded with the group. We’re speaking with the “organizers,” which is debatable in and of itself because at the end of the day, I don’t know if we could say who the organizers were to this point in time because the honest truth is it was so incredibly grassroots and no one individual could have come up with this or orchestrated this. And as we’re driving across the country, we’re realizing that these guys basically have one plan and it’s to drive to Ottawa and that’s it. And that’s actually it. So we’re like, okay, maybe you should start to come up with a plan as to how you land this and make sure that you’re communicating with OPP, with the Ottawa Police Department, with politicians, start talking to some lawyers, start talking to different groups.
And it was so beautiful how so many people came together around this movement. Grassroots, because it started with the truckers and then the Canadians jumped on board and they said, “You know what? No, we stand with the truckers.” And then the lawyers and the doctors who’ve been fighting for this from day number one said, “Wow, there’s actually a platform for us to stand on and speak to.”
So they got on board and then the police officers who’ve been let go because they’re unvaccinated, the military who had been let go because they were unvaccinated said, “You know what? We can bring our structure to this movement. We can help.” And everybody started to come together and it was so grassroots and it worked because of that. But yeah, it was a wild story to follow because as cameramen, we’re trying to think, okay, we want to follow the story. Where’s the story? Okay. Is this the story? Okay, is this the story? Is this the story? Who are we supposed to be following here?
And the honest truth is we couldn’t. And on that note, the very first day on the road, we put together a website because Andrew and I realized that there’s no way that we’re going to capture this movement with our cameras. So we put together a website and put up a WeTransfer link. And we asked Canada to support this story and asked them to send in their footage of the movement, whether it be cell phone footage on overpasses as the truck drove by or cinematographers that were out there with their cameras or drone pilots that were shooting.
At certain points in time, we were getting 60,000 hits of data [from] that website dropping us footage. And we had a team back in Calgary that was sorting all of that footage and storing it and allocating it in different folders. It was a huge operation behind the scenes. And we really, at the end of the day, can’t even take credit for this documentary. We can take credit for editing it, but this is truly a story by Canadians, for Canadians. And we couldn’t be prouder.
Mr. Jekielek: So some serious crowdsourcing going on here of footage. So do you have an estimate of how many hours of footage you ultimately got between all these uploads?
Mr. Peloso: Hundreds and hundreds of hours of footage. I would say breaching over into the thousands would be likely. The exciting stuff is the behind the scenes captures we were able to get. Some of the behind the scenes boardrooms, seeing the humanity of some of these individuals that were really just… Leadership was thrust upon them not in an ideal situation. That’s what I go back to, of it being a human story. The subsequent chapters you’re going to watch are there’s a lot of sleep deprivation. There’s a lot of paranoia. There’s a lot of people leading with their hearts, but not a lot of calculation and that in itself is very fun to cover.
Mr. Jekielek: You mentioned a little bit earlier that, for example, the soldiers and police and first responders that were let go, because they weren’t able to follow the rules for whatever reason, joined on. So they had something on their minds, but what would you say were the key reasons or the key points of why people joined?
So, of course, we have this question. Some people joined because they simply didn’t want to get vaccinated or couldn’t get vaccinated with COVID vaccines. Other people did it and this comes through in there that simply, they just didn’t like the idea of being forced to do something like this. What else was there?
Mr. Regoto: I think the foremost reason would be in support of freedom of choice—freedom of thought. Above and beyond that, I think a lot of people were brought to this movement for a sense of purpose in and of itself. Over the past couple years, I can’t speak for all of Canada, but I can speak for myself, I never lost my job, but even without losing my job, even without losing my security, there was a feeling of helplessness, there was a feeling of hopelessness and there was a feeling of depression as we’re told over and over and over again that, oh, we’re just shutting down for two weeks. Oh, it’s just two more, two more weeks will flatten the curve. Okay. Eight weeks and 60 percent vaccination, we’re shooting for 60 percent vaccination.
Oh, okay. Well, I went and got my vaccine because I was told that at 60 percent we would go back to normal. Oh, now it’s 70 percent. What did I just do that for? Now 80 percent? Now 85 percent? Now 90 percent?. When is this ever going to end? And I think that type of gas lighting broke down Canada in a way that we’ve never been broken down before in our history. And I think that one of the biggest reasons why the people came together in the millions to stand for freedom was purpose, to stand for something because the old Western saying goes, if you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.
And I think that’s been a hard lesson that Canadians have been learning. And it was incredible to watch people come together with their own strengths and support a movement together with one solid purpose, to support freedom and freedom of choice, to watch the soldiers set up camps in minus 30 degrees Celsius outside of the war monument to guard it and to stand in loyalty, to what Canada stands for, for people to stand outside of parliament and make sure that everyone was safe, to the mass groups that were shoveling the sidewalks of Ottawa, making sure that no one would slip on the ice, to the groups that picked up garbage every single night to make sure that it was cleaner than when they first came.
Everybody played a role and everybody had their purpose and it was beautiful to see. It was truly astoundingly beautiful to see everybody come together and find joy and happiness and unity in purpose. And I think that’s probably the biggest thing aside from a support for freedom of thought.
Mr. Jekielek: And Andrew, any thoughts on this?
Mr. Peloso: Yeah. I’d just like to say totally, there was people that joined this movement with a very intense frustration. You get all types when you talk about a movement of this size, but I will say, and it sounds far fetched, I’m not a protestor guy. I’m not a professional protestor. I would rather do my own thing and make cool movies and stay in my city.
I had never experienced a protest before. And I remember walking around late at night, different times with so many people shoulder to shoulder. And I did feel safe. I really did. There was not violence. There wasn’t a bunch of fist-to-cuffs or anything like that. I didn’t see that. And I was there every single day until past the Emergencies Act, when we had to talk about ways to get out under the cloak of night with police check stops.
We were there every day filming and not once did we feel unsafe. If I try and think of some credible attack towards the movement, yes, I have seen some wandering drunk people late at night walking around the street. But even then, it was one or two encounters throughout the entire protest. It was so peaceful.
On the side of the protestors that we witnessed, they knew what was at stake. And you could tell they were fighting for something bigger than just becoming a viral hit overnight or trying to take power. They were fighting for their families. They didn’t have a job to go back to. So this was their last shot. So when they parked, they really meant it, when they parked on those streets of Ottawa.
Mr. Jekielek: So tell me a little bit about this, your experience of when the Emergencies Act is announced and then goes into effect. What happened to everyone? What were people talking about? What was going through your heads?
Mr. Regoto: So that lack of sleep that Andrew brought up, that carried out through the entire time that we were there because another thing we learned was that gossip spreads like wildfire. And if facts can’t be verified, then you should probably keep your mouth shut because I think every single night we were on guard, waiting for the police to make a move or waiting for something to happen somewhere, military to come in, aliens to show up, drop out of the sky and just blow the whole thing up.
You wouldn’t believe the rumors that were happening and all it took was a little bit of consistent communication and transparency and open lines for people just to stop spreading rumors. And that fear wouldn’t have been there. So we were on guard every single day, 24/7, waiting for something to happen because we had to be there to film it.
I think there was one point in time where there were hundreds of police officers that came in and took all of the gas away from the truckers. And that was a surprise. That was when things started to turn. That was when the attitude between the Freedom Convoy and the police started to take a spin.
The Emergencies Act was declared shortly after that. And there were notices that were put on truck windows. There were different tactics that were used to encourage people to leave. Fear tactics that were to encourage people to leave. And then the day that there was actual police action and force that was brought in mass quantities, it was a site to see, honestly. We ran with our cameras. We were on the front line. We were filming everything. And there were hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of police officers, riot police, debatable whether it was military or not.
What I think is worth noting was that it wasn’t the police officers that were there the entire time because I would go as far as to venture and assume that the police officers that were there the entire time from Ottawa wouldn’t have done what happened when I feel that the police overreached proper protocol. These officers were called in from all across Canada. I know there were officers that were coming in from Calgary. I know that they got quite a bit of flack for sending officers to Ottawa for that.
There was debate whether or not there was help and aid coming from the European union. Again, rumors, so I can’t verify that, but I think it’s worth noting that the police officers that came in, there’s no way that if they were there the entire time, they would’ve taken the action that they did because it was quite violent. We watched veterans getting beaten. We watched vandalism taking place.
And absolutely no vandalism, no abuse from the Freedom Convoy whatsoever. If anything, we saw the Freedom Convoy on their hands and knees begging for them to open up their eyes. We saw people on their hands and knees praying. We saw Bibles open on the front lines with people cross-legged and they were being pulled into the riot police and physically beaten, taken somewhere else, disorientated and let go because they had no ground to arrest anyone.
Yeah, it was quite astounding. And there’s a lot of footage from that day. And that’s when this story is going to take a serious dive in, I can honestly say maybe even shame for our country and how we handled the Freedom Convoy. And it just leaves for us to really acknowledge that there is a problem and that we need to come up with a solution to go somewhere else. And we need to spend some time and reflect and understand where we’re at and figure out a path forward because what we saw was unacceptable.
Mr. Jekielek: Did you have a feeling of how historic these times were as you were there? Did you have a sense of the bigger picture or were very, very focused on making sure you could get as much of these individual actions and situations as possible? The reason I’m asking this is, I don’t think it’s even debatable that what the Canadian truckers did change the world. It certainly changed things in Canada and changed things in the U.S. and beyond. Were people there on the ground and perhaps yourselves aware of this?
Mr. Peloso: Gosh, that’s such a hard question to answer. I think more often than not, it’s so hard as one guy and everyone sees themselves as just some guy or girl, right? So when you’re in that stressful of a situation for weeks on end, I think it’s very easy to be focused on staying safe, making sure that you’re standing in the truth and being courageous, but you also are not destroying your livelihood for the rest of your life, you’re not being too fleeting. I saw a lot of that as everyone’s trying to make the best decision and the most courageous decision, at the same time looking at the future. And there were two types of thought around this. There were people that really felt called to go and I believe the strength of their resolve was beautiful.
Some of these individuals, I will look up to for the rest of my life as they did the unpopular thing and they stood in truth that this has just gone too far. This is not about the safety of the Canadian public anymore. This is about exercising control. Those people, I tip my hat to them and will forever.
Then there were individuals that I think liked the chaos, right, on both sides that were probably there for themself and liked the whole viral nature of it and liked what was at stake. And those people were just genuinely uninspiring. They were not the leaders that we followed, that’s for sure. We did capture them. Our responsibility is to document what happened. So I would say with that question, I don’t think anyone had any idea how big of a mark this would leave on history.
And that honestly makes me quite proud because Canada doesn’t do a lot first. Canada looks at our brothers and sisters in the States and says, “Oh, that’s good. And this I like, or this I don’t like.” And then we just do our own thing and we suck it up and accept it. We’re a fairly quiet, calm culture, but to do something first that was of that magnitude and the style, too, it’s just so Canadian.
It’s the dead of winter we’re going to get in our trucks, we’re just going to drive and then we’re going to stay there. And we’re going to have a big Canada Day Festival nonstop for weeks and play road hockey and set up bouncy castles and have musicians playing and have a bunch of smart doctors speak on the stage, that’s what it was. And if that was genuinely terrifying enough for our federal government to exercise the power to enable the Emergencies Act, then yeah, we live in a different Canada than I was told about, at least by my parents.
Mr. Jekielek: Well, here’s a question I have and I’m going to go back to the media for a moment here. The media portrayal of what was happening was quite different from what you just described. And if the government is taking cues from the media and many Canadians are taking their knowledge of what’s happening from these legacy media, could it be that the decisions are being made and there’s this, for lack of a better term, vicious circle of information, which accelerates into something like an Emergencies Act? I couldn’t help thinking about this, that it could have been something like that.
Mr. Regoto: It’s very interesting that you bring that up because the honest truth is that the legacy media is funded by the government here in Canada. And the government is making decisions based off of the legacy media. And that was actually announced recently when the government was being investigated into why they enacted the Emergencies Act and their justification was the legacy media and its reportings. So it does make you think and wonder where does this start? Where does this end? Where are our problems? And how do we shine a light on this to make sure that this doesn’t happen again? Because that’s a scary thought that no one gets blamed at the end of the day because it’s a big cycle.
Mr. Peloso: I’d just like to comment there as well. I think you’re exactly right. This is a funded government, funded news offering. And so there’s a circular reasoning there. And I honestly do think that that’s the whole part of waking up. Everyone keeps talking about waking up. It’s realizing that, at least in Canada, we are not quite as far along as the States in having multiple options for taking in media. We have very, very small, independent journalism that comes with its own problems, right?
And then we have our big legacy media that comes is funded by the government. And so I honestly think we all think our legacy media is telling us the truth and then decisions are being made around that. And the media’s just trying to do their job because they need to have news that people actually watch and listen to.
Everyone has ratings, everyone needs subscribers, everyone has budget reviews, and they’re trying to do their best with limited information. And everyone’s scared of losing their jobs, especially around the pandemic issue. Everyone’s just trying to protect their jobs. And so it becomes very easy to get into circular logic where you forget the importance of true journalism, which true journalism is quite a noble calling and you need to be quite courageous to do it.
Mr. Jekielek: So I want to talk a little bit about [what] the people may be wondering, right? How is this funded? These people love asking this question, right? How is this all funded? You’re doing this in partnership with the Justice Center for Constitutional Freedoms. You have John Carpay at the beginning opening up the film, so there’s some sort of connection there. Can you give us a picture of where that’s coming from?
Mr. Regoto: Yeah, absolutely. Originally we were a little bit worried around funding with this project just given if anyone watching this was watching what was going on at that point in time, there were bank accounts being frozen with money that was revolving around this Freedom Convoy. There was originally a GoFundMe account that raised $10 million that was shut down by the government and anyone who donated to that was investigated. And some of their accounts were actually frozen for periods up to two weeks.
Then above and beyond that, that information was hacked and made available to the public for the Canadian public to do whatever they wanted to these people who’ve donated, these families, these single parents, these different everyday Canadians, their information was made public to people to persecute them. There were businesses that were harassed. There were windows that were smashed. There was business that was lost around people that donated towards this cause.
And then after the GoFundMe was shut down, they tried to set up a GiveSendGo. There was $10 million that was raised. That’s an American company. They assured the convoy that they were going to get the funding to them. The government decided to enact the Emergencies Act and they shut down that funding as well. Same thing happened. So we were very nervous about accepting or receiving any funding around this.
Andrew and I funded this upfront ourselves personally and then realized, okay, this is a big project. I don’t know how long we can do this. We decided to start accepting film credit purchases on our website. So people can buy a product, different prices all the way through, and they can help support us by purchasing film credits, purchasing film credit and a T-shirt all the way up to we want to do a big red carpet event and fly people in for a premier when we do the full length documentary.
So, there are different stages that people can purchase. And honestly, it’s been amazing how much we’ve been supported through those purchases, honestly, mind blowingly, amazing. We’re so grateful to not only the Canadians, but Americans and worldwide funding that we’ve received from everyday people. And when we got back to Calgary, JCCF said, “You know what? We want to work with you too and your mandate is to communicate the Charter of Rights and Freedoms that we have as Canadians.”
And what they do is they’re working to uphold that and make sure that people understand and are educated on our rights. So they said, “If that’s your mandate, then we’re going to use you as an educational tool and we’ll use that and work together to create an educational platform around the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.”
So that’s the two main areas where this is funded. We’ve made an agreement between the two of us that we want to net absolutely nothing at the end of this project. This is a non-profit project. That’s not our heart for this. Our heart is to spread this as wide and far as possible, not to profit off of it. So if we can get this information out to as many people as we can, if there’s anyone out there that wants to sign a non-exclusive deal, then shoot us a message because we’d love to be able to extend this to you and in every language possible.
Mr. Jekielek: Yes. It’s wonderful. And the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedom, such an important document that I think so many of us really took for granted for the longest time. You don’t think about these things until you get punched in the face, until something serious happens. It was really nice to see that you’re having that collaboration.
So you mentioned there’s going to be a full length documentary. So let’s see if I got this right. You are going to do these chapters and maybe tell me how many of these chapters are going to get, but then, you’re going to put it all together into a feature length film at the end. Is that right?
Mr. Peloso: Yes, that’s correct. So we’re releasing six episodes, six chapters covering different stages of the movement. We wanted to do that because we realized time is of the essence and this is quite a fluid story. And we didn’t want to just spend a year and a half, two years, making a documentary that perhaps would fall on less of an audience that’s interested in this content. So that’s why we’re releasing new chapters every 45 days.
And the next chapter is called “Chapter Two: Winter Wildfire.” And that goes all through the actual starting of the convoy and the convoy leading up to Ottawa, digging into that story, a lot of behind the scenes about what happened and a lot of remarks from people who are on the road.
After we do these six chapters, we’re going to take the best of the best, what we felt was most pivotal to the story and put together a full length documentary. And that film will be available, as well, for people to watch. So you can watch it either of two ways, if you like the episodic approach, we have that. And if you want to watch a full feature film, we’ll have that too.
Mr. Jekielek: Well, based on what I’ve seen with the first episode, we felt very strongly once we saw the content and how you guys were approaching it in a very even keeled way, in very apolitical way, which is a bit of our ethos here at Epoch Times, we felt very comfortable to go into this arrangement without having seen everything yet. No, this is an incredibly exciting thing to be a part of.
Mr. Regoto: Yeah. We were so happy that you feel that way. It was incredibly important for us to tell this story. I should say, it’s easy to capture an audience when you have that one-sided narrative. It’s easy to capture an audience when you have that other sided narrative. What we wanted to do was make a product, such like yourselves, where we could reach mass distribution and we could create a piece that would be reflective enough for people to really think about what they truly feel and to think outside the box and to come back together into that center point where we can understand each other. So we’re incredibly excited to work with Epoch and to create a relationship around “Trucking for Freedom” and be able to showcase this relatively unbiased story to the world. And we can’t thank you enough for this partnership.
Mr. Jekielek: Andrew, any final thoughts?
Mr. Peloso: Yeah. Just thank you so much for your time. It’s been awesome to start to get to know the Epoch family, both in Canada and in the States, and being able to distribute this story on your platforms just means the world for us because we’re trying to get a message out that encourages everyone, regardless of their political view or ideology to consider and think what happened. It’s a real moment of history for Canada. A moment of history for the world and the importance of that is not lost on us.
Mr. Jekielek: Well, Andrew Peloso, Jeremy Regoto, such a pleasure to have you on the show.
Mr. Peloso: Thanks so much for your time.
Mr. Regoto: Thank you so much. It’s been a pleasure being here with you.
[Sound bite]: Coming from Romania, we lived under tyranny and we kept telling Canadians, you have this freedom, fight for it. Don’t lose it. Keep it.
[Sound bite/Andrew Peloso]: You didn’t see much journalism or reporting, but yet every city you go past, you’re like the entire city’s here.
[Sound bite/Vincent Gircys]: The institutions in this country seem to be failing very quickly.
[Sound bite/Daniel Bulford]: There was a sniper on the RCMP Emergency Response Team supporting protection of the prime minister of Canada. People were saying anywhere between 10,000 up to potentially 50,000 trucks, stretching across almost an entire province from front end to back end.
[Sound bite/Jeremy Regoto]: No one actually knows what we’re doing. When we get to Ottawa.
[Sound bite/Andrew Peloso]: This was a chaotic movement nonstop.
[Sound bite/James Bauder]: It’s much different when you’re looking in the rear view mirror. And you’re like holy, this is real.
[Sound bite/Jeremy Regoto]: There’s power struggle left, right, and center.
[Sound bite/Andrew Peloso]: It was just organic. It was literally wildfire.
[Sound bite/Tom Marazzo]: It was bumpy in the beginning. I don’t want to make fun of anybody, but sometimes it felt like here, hold my beer.
Mr. Jekielek: Thank you all for joining us for this episode of American Thought Leaders. The documentary again is “Trucking for Freedom.” It’s going to be a series that’s on Epoch TV right now. I’m your host, Jan Jekielek.
This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.
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