Activism in The Walrus: ‘Do Not Talk about Climate Change’

by Franke James

The Walrus Do Not Talk ad page 45 October 2015 issue
There is a sense of humour and rebellion to the placement of my ad in The Walrus just in time for the Federal Election. It’s an unlikely magazine to advertise in given its embrace of oil advertising.

So, how did my “Do Not Talk about Climate Change” artwork end up in The Walrus? Did I reach into my pocket and find an extra six thousand dollars? Nope. It was thanks to a generous “activist gift” from Rita Wong, an award-winning Canadian author and professor who was given the complimentary ad for her performance at a Walrus Arts event.

Rita Wong_quote: I am gravely concerned about how the petro-state has hijacked the Canada I grew up in, and would like to thank you for your courage and honesty in speaking truth to power. I would like to run your artwork with the House of Commons in the middle of the tar sands, and the words Do Not Talk about Climate Change - it is against Canada's policy

Well, it didn’t take me a split-second to jump up and shout, “What a brilliant idea! Wow! Thank you.”

Thank you Rita Wong for your activism!

Because popping up in unlikely places is what gets people talking about Climate Change — a subject the Harper government does not want discussed.

The fine print on the “Do Not Talk about Climate Change” poster is a quote from an internal government email released to me under access to information laws:
The artist's work dealt mostly with climate change and was advocating a message that was contrary to government policies on the subject. Jean-Bruno Villeneuve, DFAIT spokesperson

Here are some of the other unlikely spots my artwork has popped up…

“Do Not Talk about Climate Change” popped up in Ottawa, Calgary, and Halifax thanks to Indiegogo funding from 221 people.
This animation was unexpected on the front page of The Hill Times — the government’s favourite newsweekly

Who could have imagined that “Do Not Talk about Climate Change” would pop up in schools? But I’m glad students are debating the censorship issue.

Thanks to the BCCLA, “Do Not Talk about Climate Change” popped up in Vancouver!

And soon an image from my “Oh No Canada” show in Washington, D.C. will be popping up in a history book about Canadian politics…
Franke James artwork Do Not Talk about Climate Change was exhibited in Washington DC in 2013

But I dare not breathe a word — because it would only take one phone call from Ottawa to crush it.

Protecting our right to free expression is why I am VOTING for a change of politics in Canada on October 19th.

Because democracy only thrives when people can talk freely!

Related news:

Vancouver Observer: Repression-proof artist, Franke James, celebrated by BCCLA

Oh No Canada! Six Easy Ways to Crush Free Expression

Franke James receives the inaugural PEN Canada/Ken Filkow Prize

Do Not Think about Climate Change: Your views may be a threat to Canada’s security

Ottawa Citizen: “Artist accuses government of misusing its censorship powers to silence her”

Banned on the Hill: A True Story about Dirty Oil and Government Censorship

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