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Franke James Does New York


Franke James made it into the New York Times last week. Andrew Revkin covered the Canadian environmental artist who is fighting back against interference and bullying from the Harper government in Canada’s Approach to Inconvenient Art.  Tim Harper at the Toronto Star also covered her story in his recent article Three Women Who Fought Back Against The Conservatives. He wrote about James as well as Cindy Blackstock, an aboriginal activist who has complained about government surveillance, and Michaela Keyserlingk, who was threatened with legal action by the Conservative Party for her anti-asbestos campaign:

Given the international condemnation endured by the Conservative government last week after Canada became the first country to withdraw from Kyoto, its actions against an artist whose criticism is more whimsical than wicked looks ever more petty.

This pettiness extends to its dealings with Blackstock and Keyserlingk and only highlights three of the most egregious failings of this government: its pariah status on the environment, its inexplicable defence of asbestos exports and its inaction on the aboriginal file.

James thinks the Conservatives have underestimated the power of women.

“I think more people who are blacklisted and bullied by the Harper government need to speak up — and loudly. It’s only by shining a bright light on their bullying that we can make them change,” she says.

It’s a tall order but three women took steps in that direction in 2011.

To make it a hat trick, Franke’s story was featured in Yahoo’s Canadian politics blog this week, A Canadian Artist Takes On The Harper Government.

I wonder if this micro-managing and mean-spirited government is wishing it let the art show go ahead, rather than pressuring both the non-profit organizing this tour, and the corporate sponsor, to withdraw their support for Ms. James art? Their pettiness and censorship is now coming under public scrutiny, for besides all the bad press, Elizabeth May has taken up Franke’s cause in the House of Commons. May presented a series of questions on an order paper last week, giving the Conservatives 45 days to respond to this: “With regard to the Right to Freedom of Speech enshrined in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, on what legal basis did DFAIT ground its decision to withdraw support and revoke Ms. James’ allotted funding?”

So stay tuned, I know I will! In the meantime, check out Franke’s fun and inspiring Christmas story, Dinner With A Stranger.

More links:

4 Comments leave one →
  1. 2011/12/22 8:51 am


    You are amazing! Thank you so much for this post which beautifully sums up all the new developments in my blacklisting story. I am thrilled that the Green Party of Canada stepped up to the plate and submitted a formal written question to Parliament.

    I’ll keep you posted — today I’m filing a complaint with the Office of the Information Commissioner of Canada regarding missing documents and other minutiae!

    All the best for a great holiday with family and friends and a deep green 2012,


    • 2011/12/22 7:14 pm

      Happy to help out – and thank YOU for your courage and perseverance, Franke!

  2. 2012/01/19 2:56 pm

    This “micro-managing and mean-spirited government” with its “pettiness and censorship”, and intimidation tactics is not only short-sighted but stupid. Have they forgotten their lack of attention to minor details such as the embarrassing (but accurate) acronym of their former name – Canadian Reform Alliance Party: C.R.A.P.? One really needs to think ahead to the potential consequences of too-hasty decisions.

    But for this government’s dictatorial leader’s belligerence we might never have heard of Franke James’ art; now, thanks to his censorship she is widely known and supported both across Canada and internationally. Didn’t this “leader” know that the best way to promote a work of art, literature or film is to attack it? Didn’t he know that denying someone the Right to Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Expression is the best way to advertise their wares and encourage people to take a closer look? Didn’t he know that if he’d just let the show go on it would have been over and done with before Canadians were even aware of it.

    It must have been very distressing at the time, Franke, but he has actually done you a great favour, and also helped to spread the climate change messages more widely – neither of which was his intention (just as with the acronym of his REAL party).

    Good luck with finding your missing documents, but they were probably shredded.


  3. 2012/01/19 8:54 pm

    You make a good point, Ann – thanks to Herr Harper and his minions, Franke and her message is getting lots of great PR. I love that perspective, thanks!

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