‘Three Weeks That Shook the World’: Veteran Journalist Pens Inside Story of Freedom Convoy

‘Three Weeks That Shook the World’: Veteran Journalist Pens Inside Story of Freedom Convoy
Crowds of protesters demonstrate against COVID-19 mandates and restrictions during the Freedom Convoy protest in downtown Ottawa on Feb. 12, 2022. (Jonathan Ren/The Epoch Times)
Isaac Teo

When Andrew Lawton was dispatched to cover the Freedom Convoy protest in Ottawa this winter, he witnessed first-hand the discrepancy between what he observed on the ground and what was reported in the legacy media.

The journalism fellow at True North and host of The Andrew Lawton Show recently released a book about his observations titled “The Freedom Convoy: The Inside Story of Three Weeks that Shook the World.” It traces the convoy from its beginnings through to when a massive police operation was deployed to clear the protesters from downtown Ottawa.

“My book is about this protest that really shook Canada and the world, and I think it was important to put this story on the record because there was so much misinformation in the media,” Lawton told The Epoch Times.

“There was so much that people in political leadership positions, the media, and even the country as a whole didn’t understand about the protest, and the book is really trying to tell the story of this protest and the people behind it and do it in a fair and accurate way.”

The book features some of the well-known organizers and figures, such as Tamara Lich, Benjamin Dichter, Chris Barber, and Tom Marazzo and includes countless of hours of interviews with players at various levels of the convoy, “many of whom are speaking for the first time through this book,” Lawton writes on Substack.
The Freedom Convoy, which began on Jan.29 and ended on Feb. 20, started out as a demonstration by truck drivers opposing federal COVID-19 vaccine mandates for cross-border travel, but grew exponentially when supporters from across the country joined in to call for an end to various COVID-19 mandates and restrictions.
At a press conference on Jan. 26 ahead of the convoy’s arrival Ottawa, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau dismissed those involved as being a “small fringe minority” who do not hold the views of the majority of Canadians.


As for journalists, Lawton said many took their dislike or misunderstanding of the convoy and “let that colour their reporting.” He added that although he sympathized with the protesters, he wanted his book to be fair and honest by “sticking to the facts.”

“I’ve been very sympathetic to the fight against vaccine mandates and the fight against vaccine passports,” he said.

“I was sympathetic to the convoy but I also approached this book still wanting it to be factual and wanting it to be accurate, and I think I tried to verify everything. A lot of what people shared with me I saw myself in some form, or I tried to verify with other people.”

Behind the Scenes

Lawton says he didn’t interview government officials for his book because that part of the story “was already being told.”

“I was more interested in telling the story that wasn’t told,” he said, while noting that convoy organizers weren’t getting adequate media coverage at the time.

“Part of that was because of a decision they made—many of them wouldn’t engage with mainstream media journalists, they wouldn’t do interviews with mainstream media outlets,” he said.

I as a journalist with a new media, True North, had a level of access, so I was able to leverage that and really gain the trust of a lot of people who were eager to share about this event.”

Lawton said there was another layer to the convoy behind the scenes that few people were aware of.

“There was this network, they called them command centres,” he said, explaining that the centres were set up a week before the convoy reached Ottawa, and evolved to become more sophisticated after the trucks arrived and the protest continued.

“These really complex operational hubs that were set up at hotels around Ottawa—they had catering, they had computers set up, they had medical dispatch, they had people that were working around the clock in all of these areas, [such as] security and fuel distribution, to keep the convoy going,” he said.

“This was something that you couldn’t see from the street, but it was a big part of why the convoy was able to stick around as long as it did.”


One key misconception that many people had toward the convoy was that it was a top-down organization, Lawton said.

“They assumed that this was this top-down organization [where] you had someone like Tamara Lich at the top that can make people do things, but the reality was everyone was there for their own reasons.”

Chapter 11 of the book notes that “organizers prided themselves on keeping open lines of communication with law enforcement.” Lawton details how Lich and convoy lawyer Keith Wilson hustled to get truckers on board for an operation set for the evening of Feb. 10, in which they would move their trucks from downtown residential areas and clear the Rideau and Sussex intersection. The decision came on Feb. 8 after a meeting Marazzo and Wilson had with Ottawa’s city manager, Steve Kanellakos, together with four Ottawa Police Service and Ontario Provincial Police liaisons.

“Some remained stubborn. Others thought it was a trap and that they and the convoy leaders were getting hoodwinked by police. Yet they somehow got the truckers to agree,” the book reads.

“I think that a lot of truckers trusted [Lich and the other organizers]. And when [the organizers] talked to people and said ‘hey we’re trying to work out this deal with police and the city so we need to move your truck here,’ people were receptive. But they didn’t control them,” Lawton says.

“That’s very key when people talk about the organizers and leaders. It’s really important that you understand that no one was in control of anyone else.”

He also noted that money was “unimportant” to the Freedom Convoy, but the issue of funds that were raised to support the protest became one of the main focuses of mainstream media and government.

“The money was never there for the sake of having money. It was there to buy diesel. It was there to buy food,” he said.

“So when the government came in and tried to freeze the bank accounts, they thought that would end the protests, but it didn’t, because the convoy wasn’t fuelled by money. It was fuelled by people.”

Lawton said he hopes readers can approach his book with an open mind.

“If you are supportive of the convoy, you'll learn things about how it came to be,” he said. “If you’re not supportive of the convoy, I still think you can read the book and have an understanding of who this group was and why it happened, even if you don’t agree with what they did.”