Censorship / Blacklisting
BANNED ON THE HILL by Franke James
What would you do if you discovered you were blacklisted by your own government for speaking up on climate change and the tar sands? In Banned on the Hill, artist and author Franke James, tells how she first discovered she was being censored by the Canadian government — and how she fought back. It’s an inspiring story that shows how creativity, crowd-funding and investigative digging can work together to shine a bright light on a government that is more interested in message control than a citizen’s democratic right to free expression. Through eight visual essays, James traces her personal journey as an active citizen discovering the power of speaking out. Interviewed in the Guardian UK newspaper James said that she hoped the book would serve as a how-to guide to other activists hoping to take on the Harper administration, especially with humour. “It’s kind of like a judo flip, meaning that you can actually flip someone who is much bigger than you.”
Through entertaining, powerful and humorous real-life storytelling, James show us how to speak the hard truths — and get heard. She shows us why actions speak louder than words and how each of us can make a difference in our front yards, our city, our country and our world.
Where to buy the book
The graphic above “Games Bureaucats Play” from Banned on the Hill confirms that Franke James has received 2,172 ATIP documents from DFAIT, and three other government departments in response to ATIP requests from August, 2011 to March 2013. Banned on the Hill was published in May 2013. The graphic ebook is now available for iPad, Kindle Fire and Google Play.
BLACKLISTING INDEX – 2011-2013
- 2013 News
- Franke James’ Videos, ATIP docs, Posts & Press Releases
- 2011-2012 News Articles
- “What can one person do?” (pdf)
The original 22 artworks proposed in 2011
- Nektarina’s Proposal: ATIP_A201100802
- PEN Canada and the Writers’ Union of Canada release
- Petition to Prime Minister Harper
‘Banned on the Hill’ Makes Headlines
The Guardian UK: Artist finds inspiration in Canadian government’s attempt to silence her – by Suzanne Goldenberg, US environment correspondent “Visual essays by Franke James reveal how the ‘troublesome artist’ was targeted because her views on climate change clashed with the push to develop Alberta’s tar sands.”
“Canada, under the government of Stephen Harper, has exhibited little patience for dissent. The government has muzzled government scientists, insulted Nasa climate experts, and dismissed environmental protesters as dangerous radicals.
“But there is apparently one woman whom the government can’t shut up: the Toronto environmental writer, illustrator and activist Franke James, who turned the efforts to silence her into material for a new book. Banned on the Hill: A True Story about Dirty Oil and Government Censorship, released this week, shows how Canadian bureaucrats tried to silence James because her views on climate change clashed with the Harper government’s push to develop Alberta’s tar sands. The story is told through visual essays as well as official emails obtained by James, in which government bureaucrats discuss the troublesome artist and her work.” Link
Dogwood Initiative Blacklisted Activist Fights Back With Chilling Censorship Story Canadian author and artist Franke James’s first-hand account of the federal government’s successful attempt to block her international art show …
TORONTO STAR: Climate activist gets even with new book
Print headline, A6, May 27, 2013; By Raveena Aulakh
“Franke James, the artist in question, first got mad — now she is getting even. James, a Toronto-based activist with no shortage of gumption and political acumen, has turned the federal government’s efforts to silence her into a new book.
“Banned on the Hill: A True Story about Dirty Oil and Government Censorship was released last week and tells the story of how Canadian bureaucrats withdrew support for James because her views on climate change didn’t match those held by the Harper government. She has used access to information requests and visual essays to highlight how the Conservatives withdrew funding for the European art tour because, she writes, they didn’t like that she believes Canada is failing to act on climate change. “As a Canadian citizen, to know that the government is interfering in private business is really shocking. It’s undemocratic,” said James. “If art has to agree with government policy, then art is government propaganda.”
RED EYE RADIO: Artist Franke James on how her work came to clash with the Harper government’s message of Tar Sands development.
June 1st at 9:20am.
VANCOUVER OBSERVER: Deep pocket PR vs. artist Franke James: the fight’s on
By Andrea Bennett “If James’ recent interview with the Guardian is any indication, it seems Harper’s communication strategy has achieved the level of international notoriety, the apparent ‘the stuff of legend’… The attempt to silence Franke James has, instead, ensured that both her work and her message are recognized around the world.”
OTTAWA CITIZEN: Toronto artist Franke James says Harper government monitored her climate change artwork By Mike de Souza
“More than two dozen senior officials and diplomats in Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservative government monitored information about a Toronto artist over her criticism of the oil and gas industry’s environmental performance. This behind the scenes reaction was described in passages from more than 2,000 internal federal emails and other records, featured in a new book – Banned on the Hill – released this month by the artist and environmental activist, Franke James.
“This is a small fraction of all the people who’ve been monitoring my file and this is ridiculous,” said James in an interview. “It’s simply by disagreeing with them that I made it on to their list.”
GLOBE AND MAIL: Conservative attacks are nothing but bullying
By Gerald Caplan
“Ms. Casault could have a great class on government bullying by introducing her kids to the shocking saga of Franke James. Ms. James is an artist/author/environmental activist. Her work is great fun for kids of all ages and they can Google her easily. Two years ago, she was supposed to have her work exhibited in 20 European cities. But the local NGO that was sponsoring her was bullied and intimidated so badly by Canadian officials that it pulled out and the entire show was canceled. Her terrible crime? As a spokesperson for our government candidly explained, Ms. James’ show was about climate change and her opinions were contrary to those of the government. That was it. Here’s the big message that all kids better learn if they’re to survive in a bullying culture. With the rarest exception, Stephen Harper and his minions never ever admit they’re wrong. Whatever they do is always honorable, whatever opponents do is always dishonorable. Even, repeatedly, smack in the middle of the entire WrightDuffyGate scandal, led by the Prime Minister himself boasting to his caucus that no government has ever been more accountable than his.”
HUFFINGTON POST CANADA The story of Franke James and the art of activism
By Kevin Grandia
“Franke James is doing what every Canadian is taught from an early age: to stand up and fight for what you believe is right. Franke has turned her art, her story and her activism into a visually stunning book, Banned on the Hill: a True Story about Dirty Oil and Government Censorship, and on Monday her book got international attention with a feature in UK’s Guardian media outlet. The attention is well deserved. Her art is very cool, and no doubt the success of her new book will rekindle the emotions that her state-censored European exhibit elicited from the ruling Conservative Party.”
On May 2, 2013, CJFE launched the publication of its annual Review of Free Expression in Canada with “a salon-style conversation focusing on this hard won and frequently challenged Charter right.” The evening honoured World Press Freedom Day on May 3. Franke James spoke about free expression and presented excerpts from her new book, “Banned on the Hill”. See the live blog from the event
Canada’s Unsettling Climate – An Interview with Franke James by Dave Heidebrecht
“In a free and open society, individuals should expect to be able to voice their views and opinions openly, without fear of censure or punishment. Living in the relative comfort of a parliamentary democracy such as Canada, most of us believe that though we may not always agree with the ideologies of the party in power, we still have the right to freely share our views on issues that have an impact on our lives…” Link
Freedom to Read 2013: Return of the Blacklist by Charles Montpetit.
“The problem wasn’t the loss of a token government grant, wrote [Franke James] in her blog. The deeper issue was tolerance of dissent in a democracy: “I thought the Canadian embassies were there to help all Canadians… The government should not be telling anyone not to exhibit my art, just because I disagree with unethical oil.”” Link
February 2012 Franke James Wait a minute Mr. Postman! Do you have a letter for me? From my favourite MP?
“On January 27, my very own Member of Parliament, Minister Joe Oliver told the Toronto Star that he would meet with environmentalists…”
Franke James Taking my MP – Joe Oliver – Up on His Offer!
“I was thrilled and delighted to read in Linda Nguyen’s article on Canada.com (and in Jennifer Pagliaro’s article in the Toronto Star) that you are open to speaking with environmental groups. I want to take you up on your offer as I am both an environmentalist and one of your constituents!”
Franke James The Ambassador, the Octopus… And Foreign Affairs
“The Ambassador, the Octopus and Foreign Affairs — how DO they all relate? Well, let me start by sharing with you one of the new Access-to-Information (ATIP) documents released to me in mid-December regarding my blacklisting by the Harper Government. Scan this internal Foreign Affairs Hot Issues newsletter (dated July 28/11) and see if anything jumps out at you…”
ATIP Highlights: Canada’s Climate Change office secretly killed approval for Franke James’ European art tour, government documents reveal
November 9, 2011
Internal government documents, released through an Access To Information request, show that Canada’s Climate Office in Ottawa, at the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT), made the decision to cancel Canadian support for the Franke James European Tour. See highlights from the ATI documents…
Canada’s First Crowd-funded ArtShow On Outdoor Ads Protests Climate Artist’s Censorship: Artist’s thank you video to supporters
Press Release: Artist stands up to Harper Government intimidation and brings her “banned” art to the streets of Ottawa
November 2, 2011
For Immediate Release: Banned on the Hill! Artist stands up to Harper Government intimidation and brings her “banned” art to the streets of Ottawa See…
Backgrounder: Franke James Blacklisted by the Harper Government
Questions and answers about the blacklisting. Backgrounder and timeline…
DFAIT Internal Communications regarding Franke James (Access To Information Request)
Internal Government Documents related to the cancellation of Franke’s European Tour releasee under Access To Information Request submitted by Franke James. Initial release from the Department of Foreign affairs which was released on October 31, 2011. Contains 165 pages plus cover letter. Download PDF | Summary: highlights from the ATIP documents…
Media Advisory: Banned on the Hill, Media Advisory
October 31, 2011
Media Advisory Artist stands up to Harper Government intimidation and brings her “banned” art to the streets of Ottawa Canadian artist Franke James will open her crowd… See…
Interdite sur la Colline!
October 31, 2011
Une artiste résiste aux tentatives d’intimidation du gouvernement Harper et expose ses oeuvres « interdites » dans les rues d’Ottawa L’artiste canadienne Franke James inaugurera son… See
Guess Who Came To The Blacklisting Party?
Over 100 people from the arts, environmental groups, social justice, law, politics and media came. (And there was lively speculation as to who the ‘Idiot on the Hill’ might be.)” More…
Blacklisted by Harper? Get out the Noise-Makers!
September 10, 2011
Yes, because the best way to fight shadowy blacklisting is to get noisy, have fun, and tell lots of people. So, to help spread the word, I’m hosting a Blacklisting Party. More…
Blacklisting Makes News in Ottawa (And beyond)
August 17, 2011
More than 20 articles have appeared in major media, blogs and environmental websites since news of my blacklisting broke on July 25th. See some of the news articles. More…
Silenced in Europe, Franke Gets Loud in Ottawa!
August 2, 2011
My European show is cancelled, thanks to interference from Canada’s Harper Govt — which makes me mad. But I’m not going to let them silence me. I’ve decided some grassroots, guerilla tactics are in order. More…
Canadian Government Tries to Silence Franke James
July 25, 2011
The Canadian Government, led by Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservative Party, is actively working to shut down my solo European art exhibition, which is set to tour 20 cities in Europe. More…
The Toronto Quarterly Interviews Franke James
Darryl Salach asks Franke James about her political artwork: “Art and political activism are the perfect combo… Link
CARFAC: The VOICE for Professional Artists
Carfac Ontario’s Sneak Peek Summer Dispatch: Mariam Nader interviews Franke James on the government’s censorship of her work: “Exactly. I just thought to myself, there is no way I’m going to keep my mouth shut [again]. I’m going to make as big of a noise as I possibly can about this.”
Guest Blog: Franke James Asks “What’s Harper Afraid Of?”
Canadian Artist Franke James Calls Stephen Harper And Joe Oliver Out In This Hard-Hitting Visual Essay.
CJLO Radio: Interview with Franke James
June 1, 2012: Karl Knox interview with Franke James (starts at approximately 1:08 minutes) Karl’s intro, “Pretty much the best thing I’ve ever seen.”
Voices-Voix: Franke James Blacklisting: Newly released Access to Information documents reveal that on July 12 2011, the Canadian Ambassador to the Baltic States, Scott Heatherington, stated in a letter to Canadian Embassy colleagues that he did not feel comfortable supporting James’ artwork. He then directed them to her visual essay “Fat Cat Canada” as an example of why support should not be granted. This makes it clear that the content of James’ work was a factor in why support for her show was refused. Read Voices-Voix summary of Franke James Blacklisting.
Rabble: Bernadette Wagner: Oily in Canada, eh?
“Franke James, the artist who was blacklisted by the HarperCons, lives in Joe Oliver’s riding. She was excited to learn that he is open to meeting with environmental groups. So, she’s issued a public letter, taking him up on his offer and requesting a meeting with him.”
350 Or Bust: Christine Penner-Polle: Franke James Does New York
“Franke James made it into the New York Times… 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‘… To make it a hat trick, Franke’s story was featured in Yahoo’s Canadian politics… ‘A Canadian Artist Takes On The Harper Government.'”
Yahoo! Canada News: Andy Radia: A Canadian artist takes on the Harper Government
“A Toronto area artist is standing up to her bully. Her bully, she claims, is the Harper government. Many will recall the story of Franke James, an environmental advocate who, over the years, has created provocative visual essays challenging the Canadian government over its inaction on climate change.”
Toronto Star: Tim Harper: Three women who fought back against the Conservatives
“Franke James doesn’t have a famous name and she didn’t call Environment Minister Peter Kent a piece of excrement to highlight an issue. But the Toronto artist and environmental activist has shown no shortage of political acumen in her bid to fight back against a Conservative government she says has bullied her. She has used access to information requests, help from political allies and publicity in the media…”
DeSmogBlog: Brendan DeMelle: Andy Revkin Interviews Franke James On Dot Earth: Canada’s Approach To Inconvenient Art
“Andy Revkin has a great interview with Canadian artist Franke James on his Dot Earth blog at The New York Times. DeSmogBlog previously covered the harassment and censorship that Franke James says she experienced at the hands of the Harper government, which worked in strangely aggressive ways to block the 20-city European tour of a climate change art exhibit that included her work.”
New York Times Dot Earth: Andrew Revkin: Canada’s Approach to Inconvenient Art: Interview
“Franke James is a Canadian artist with deep concerns about her country’s outsize contribution to resource waste and the building accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Check her scrolling artwork titled “Fat Cat Canada’s Giant Litter Box” for an example… She was slated earlier this year to receive government support for a traveling exhibition of her work in Europe, but the money was pulled when the Conservative Party gained the majority in a vote last May.”
Centretown News (Ottawa): Emails confirm federal meddling in critical arts tour
“The show was killed because they were bad-mouthing me to the NGO,” says James… “I thought the most fun thing to do was actually mount this crowd-funded art show on the streets of Ottawa as close to the Parliament Buildings as I could get,” says James.”
FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION: PEN Canada and the Writers’ Union of Canada express concern over Government interference
“The government of Canada has no right to determine what is an acceptable opinion for an individual citizen, on climate change or any matter of public interest,” said Charlie Foran, President of PEN Canada, “To do so is clearly not in the spirit of the Charter and the long history of freedom of expression in Canada.”
Daily Kos: The Daily Durban eCOP: Why would Canada censor artist, Franke James? See “Banned on the Hill”
“As the 17th round of climate change talks open in Durban, SA, my fat cat country is banding together with other rich nations to ensure that no significant global treaty on climate change takes effect until 2020… But negotiating tactics used in climate talks with other countries take on a much different complexion when they’re aimed at individual citizens. Who would have thought that Canada would be so concerned about controlling the climate message that they would interfere in a private citizen’s business.”
The Leveller: Crystel Hajjar “Banned on the Hill”
Ottawa art exhibit highlights government interference in environmental education
“Toronto artist Franke James is displaying environmental artwork on Bank Street in protest of the Canadian government’s interference in her 20-city European art show and its decision to revoke $5,000 in funding intended to help tour the pieces.” [pdf]
Calgary Herald: Stephen Hunt Ombudsman needed to deal with federal madness
“Turns out the show was all about global warming, and included some needling of the Guys in Charge, and the oilsands – you know, the same stuff Stephen Colbert was ripping us about on The Colbert Report the other night. Even worse, the Guys in Charge denied that the content of James’ show had anything to do with revoking the funding, describing her allegations as a fantasy. They denied ever offering 5K in the first place, until James filed Access to Information requests that uncovered a bunch of e-mails showing that The Guys in Charge were who she said they were: welchers.”
CBC Radio: The Current: The intersection of Govt, Art and Politics: Franke James interviewed on “The Current” by Anna Maria Tremonti
“Franke James creates irreverent even whimsical art with a message about the environment, oil sands and climate change but when a federal bureaucrat accused her of creating a Fantasy, she filed an Access to Information request and discovered an email trail indicating officials at the Foreign Affairs Dept don’t seem to like her art and pulled funding because her work isn’t consistent with government interests. She says that opinion ended plans for a European art tour.”
EDMONTON JOURNAL: AMY CHUNG
Google cache Government officials killed funding for Canadian artist: documents
“But newly released documents obtained under access-to-information legislation show that Department of Foreign Affairs officials did initially earmark funding for James’ show, only to withdraw their support days later, citing, among their reasons, that it “would run counter to Canada’s interest.” (Also ran in Canada.com and the Vancouver Sun)
350 OR BUST: Banned On The Hill: Franke James Takes Her Art To Ottawa
“Now this creative environmental artist has taken the bold step of taking her art right to Prime Minister Harper’s doorstep, into public spaces in Ottawa”
MINDEN TIMES: Blacklisted artist shares her story
“She’s on Stephen Harper’s blacklist and last weekend, artist Franke James was at the Minden Hills Cultural Centre. The author of Bothered By My Green Conscience and Dear Prime Minister – visual essays that combine James’s brightly coloured art works with a call for improved environmental stewardship – was in town on Nov. 4 for a talk hosted by Environment Haliburton.”
OTTAWA METRONEWS: The show must go on for ‘banned art’
“To spread the word about her apparent muzzling, she raised $4,226 crowd-sourced funds to erect the “banned art”, which will be on display until Nov. 27.”
CARE2: Blacklisted Artist Occupies Ottawa Ad Space
“After having her European tour cancelled, Franke James decided to raise money to “get loud in Ottawa.” In order to fund her project, James turned to LoudSauce, a crowdfunded media buying platform to spread ideas that matter. Using LoudSauce, James raised $4,226 from 82 people to allow her to bring her “Dear Prime Minister” campaign to Ottawa.”
OTTAWA CITIZEN: VIDEO NOV.2/11: Franke James talking at Banned on the Hill
UK: MIKE SHANAHAN: Blacklisted by Canada… for drawing climate-change cartoons?
“And with her exhibitions in 20 European cities cancelled she is taking aim at the Canadian capital Ottawa. She has raised funds for an outdoor exhibition there…” More…
ERICH THE GREEN: Blacklisting artists is Franke-ly un-Canadian
“Under the Harper regime, things have changed. For having the audacity to challenge some Harper policies, or lack thereof, James has been blacklisted overseas.” Also in The Barrie Examiner More…
NEW SOCIETY PUBLISHERS: Franke James Blacklisted?
“But Franke has her own message for Ottawa. ‘Stop blacklisting Franke James — and stop silencing our environmental artists and scientists! Free speech is a basic right of a democratic country.'” More…
DAILY KOS: Stop Tar Sands: Preventing Art Attacks
As all the brave protesters heading to Washington D.C. the next two weeks know, speaking out against greed and environmental destruction can be a risky proposition. More…
OTTAWA METRONEWS: Feds tarred art show, artist says
Franke James interview: Artist who blames Feds for kiboshing her tour is taking her art to Ottawa instead — to display it somewhere Prime Minister Stephen Harper can’t miss it. More…
BRAZILIAN NEWSPAPER: Artist and activist in Canada says she’s “black listed”
Franke James interview: “Artista e ativista canadense diz estar em “lista negra” More…
Op-Ed Vancouver Sun: Government undermining freedom of speech
Freedom of expression and access to information are core democratic values to which Canada presumably ascribes. Two recent cases, however, call into question our government’s commitment to these values.
350 or bust: Dear Prime Minister Harper: Please Stop Blacklisting Environmental Artists and Scientists
“So, to help Franke – and annoy the heck out of Harper and his cronies – here’s a few things you can do…” More…
LOUDSAUCE: Help Franke James Fight the Blacklisting by the Canadian Government
Canada’s Harper Government has blacklisted Franke James for speaking up for the environment and against dirty oil. Pledge your support…More…
VOIR: OP-ED: Censure d’une artiste environnementaliste par le gouvernement canadien?
VOIR, the Montreal based cultural weekly newspaper published my blog post as an Op-Ed en Français — and the Dear PM story too. More…
Daily Kos: Environmental Artist Blacklisted by Canadian Government. You Can Help Turn the Tables
“So now it’s time for Franke to push back, not only to expose the bully, but to expose the truth… She’s teamed up with a really cool organization, loudsauce.com, who is helping to send her “banned” artwork to Ottawa…”
deSmogBlog: Artist Franke James has Harper quaking in fear
“If Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper is this frightened, then we can only assume that the visual artist from Toronto, Franke James, is THAT scary!”More…
VANCOUVER SUN: AMY CHUNG JULY 31, 2011
Artist accuses federal government of ‘political bullying’
TORONTO STAR: Artist sees red over government ‘blacklisting’
“I would expect that from the Putin government or a country like Kazakhstan, but I didn’t expect that from Canadians,” said Antonovic, Nektarina More…
TREEHUGGER: Canadian Government Denies Interfering With Franke James’ Climate Show
Treehugger’s second article on the developing situation…
The TYEE: Feds Tried to Sabotage Climate Change Art Show: Artist
“Funding and embassy support dry up for Canadian’s European exhibition, but DFAIT denies responsibility.”
350 or bust: Is The Kremlin Now In Charge? Harper Government Silencing Canadian Artists And Scientists
“In a similar chilling manner, the Harper Government has recently lead a campaign to silence award-winning artist and author Franke James.” More…
Nektarina’s Official Statement: Bully in the Playground
“When Nektarina decided to present Franke’s artwork in a series of exhibitions in Europe and Central Asia, we felt confident of the support of Canada – Franke’s homeland. Regrettably, the Canadian Government has since declined support for the project, verbally explaining that “She (Franke James) speaks against the Canadian Government”. Nektarina Non Profit was deeply surprised and disappointed by the reaction of official Canada, yet we decided to carry on with the project.
“Nektarina Non Profit believes that it is the right of every person – artists and intellectuals in particular – to freely express their opinion and to be able to pose the question about their government’s accountability on specific decisions. This is all the more important when such governmental decisions potentially impact the welfare of a large demographic, natural resources or both.
“In the past few months we have encountered many difficulties in organizing the exhibitions, usually connected to interventions of the Canadian Government or institutions under Canadian governmental control. We continued to look for ways to collaborate with the home land of the artist, although at times we felt patronized and even intimidated, as a small NGO trying to reach an understanding with a powerful state. This was most surprising given Canada´s reputation over many decades as a leader in promoting democratic freedoms”
TREEHUGGER: Canadian Government Tries To Silence Artist Franke James
“Treehugger has been pleased to show the work of Franke James a number of times…” More…
CARE2 PETITION TO HARPER:
CARE2 OPEN LETTER WITH COMMENTS: Harper Government Trying to Silence Canadian Artist
What’s a talented artist like Franke James doing on a government hit list? She is being blacklisted by the Government of Canada.More…
End Canada’s attempt to silence artist
We the undersigned urge you to support the international tour of artist Franke James and to put an end to the Government of Canada’s intimidation of embassies and agencies who wish to promote her work abroad. Please sign the online petition…