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.



‘Banned on the Hill’ Makes Headlines

The Guardian UK: Artist finds inspiration in Canadian government’s attempt to silence herby 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 …

DeSmog Canada Artist Franke James Live and (Actually) Uncensored (Since, Apparently, She Refuses to Be)

CTV POWER PLAY: Don Martin interviews Franke James, Author of “Banned on the Hill’ & Climate Activist

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.”

Speaking Event – Canadian Journalists for Free Expression: Presented by CJFE in partnership with the Canadian Commission for UNESCO. Event description. [Live Blog]


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