Banned Artist Raises Questions About Freedom & Climate Change

With the birth and international growth of the Occupy Wall Street movement, the protection of human and civil rights has once again become part of our dialogue as a species.

With people being pepper sprayed and physically assaulted in an effort to silence their protest, it would seem like a piece of artwork would be the last of the 1%’s worries. But in Canada, an environmental artist is at the center of what seems like a coordinated government effort to prevent its citizens from learning about climate change.

Franke James‘ popular visual essays – about rising emissions, loafing leaders and her personal responses to our environmental challenges – have earned her a spot on the Harper Government’s blacklist. Earlier this year, Franke’s 20-city European art tour was cancelled after interference by the Harper Government.

In media interviews, the Harper Government has denied any interference saying, “funding was never withdrawn nor was it guaranteed.” However, internal government documents, released this week through the Access To Information Act, show that funding was approved and then withdrawn under orders from the Deputy Director of Climate Change at Foreign Affairs.

PEN Canada and the Writers’ Union of Canada recently expressed their concern over the Government censorship.

“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.”

Greg Hollingshead, Chair of The Writers’ Union of Canada, “The right to freedom of expression includes freedom from official disapproval, including the sort of bureaucratic interference encountered by Franke James.”

Why would the Canadian government feel so threatened by an art exhibit about climate change? Could it have something to do with the country’s massive tar sands oil deposits that several energy companies are just itching to exploit?

Each barrel of oil extracted from the tar sands creates three times the global warming pollution as conventional oil. In fact, oil sands are now the fastest growing source of global warming pollution in Canada. They are also one of the most expensive forms of gasoline on the planet.

Could it be that the United States isn’t the only country to be controlled by the profit-obsessed fossil fuel industry?

Please take the time to read the in-depth reports about blacklisted artist Franke James published previously on Care2, and sign the petition to end Canada’s attempt to keep its citizens in the dark about climate change.

Related Reading:

Harper Government Trying To Silence Canadian Artist

Blacklisted Canadian Artist Becoming Mosquito In Government’s Ears

Blacklisted Artist Occupies Ottawa Art Space

TransCanada Admits It Lied About Keystone XL Jobs

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Kimberly McMahen
Kimberly McMahen6 years ago

I always considered Canada as a country that was open to ideas and cared about the environment. Boy, this has opened my eyes.

rita b.
Rita B6 years ago

I loved your video and posters, we need more of that here the USA

Henry Schrieber
Hank Schrieber6 years ago

An Anti-Art country is not civilized.

Eternal Gardener
Eternal G6 years ago

As one does, living in a society where everyone is shackled by corporatism!

kurt klingbeil
kurt klingbeil6 years ago

Here in Harperia (previously known as Canada - before the coup) the Harperists are busy racing us to the bottom, dismantling anything caring, compassionate, and competent - there is no room for any of that in the continental integrationist borderless agenda.

Janice Redinger
Janice Redinger6 years ago

My niece is an artist in the US. She gets all her materials from dumpster diving and recyclable
"gifts." She also speaks out against the waste in government and the greed of the 1%. I fear that soon, the same will happen to her. Still, maybe it will give her some hard earned publicity.
Still, greed is greed, and it is everywhere.

Deanna J.
Deanna J6 years ago

For all that people seem to tout Canada as being a better version of the US, it becomes more and more apparent to me that we're entirely too similar. Weaselly politicians in both countries silence people and try to maintain the status quo. (Also, unrelated note, studies show that Canadians are every bit as aggressive as Americans are.) And ILU Canada, but please stop bashing baby seals' brains in. TY, have a nice day.

Jamie Clemons
Jamie C6 years ago

any country that has conservatives in power is the kind of country that would do this.

Shan D.
Shan D6 years ago

Stephen Harper is a petty, small-minded man who has to micromanage EVERYTHING around him, lest anybody say anything that could show him in a bad light, show that the Conservatives are lying, or show that *some* party members don't agree with Official Doctrine. He even had a cast member of "This Hour Has 22 Minutes" arrested when she tried to ask him what he and his party would do for the women voters of Canada! This moron has no idea that being featured on "22 Minutes" is publicity that you just can't buy anywhere else, and it's best to be a sport and go along with it - otherwise, the PR will surely come back to bite you in ways that are not beneficial.

John Mansky
John Mansky6 years ago

The Tar Sands Project is best kept where it is. Although, one can see that greed is more important than habitat. But to ban an Artist? One does not become a world leader,thus. Maybe third world!
Thank you for the article...