|‘Banned on the Hill’ book cover. Credit: Franke James.
By Anders Lorenzen
Franke James, a Canadian author, artist and activist, is an outright critic of Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his government for the promotion of tar sands exploitation and Canada’s anti-climate stance.
In 2011 she opened the art show ‘Banned on the Hill’ which highlighted how the Canadian government have been trying to silence her by removing her funding. I caught up with her on google hangout to find out more.
In 2011 she was supposed to have a nationwide tour with her art show, but she claims that the government intervened behind the scenes and told the non-profits not to show her art show saying “That incident, the fact they were censoring my work got me to dig and find out what the facts really were’’. She then, subsequently after having applied for the freedom of information act, received over 2000 emails relating to her. It took her a period of two years to obtain that information, a period of which she also fought back against the government to silence her by having a crowd-funded billboard campaign in Ottawa in November 2011. She said that was a neat move, because instead of swiping it under the carpet it’s out in the open where everyone can see that the government denies freedom of speech.
In a strong attack against the Canadian government, she said:
“I have got so much great support, though there is still so many Canadians that don’t understand that this is a huge problem. It’s not just me being silenced, scientists are being silenced, librarians are being silenced, first nations are being silenced. Anyone who speaks against tar sands oil are being slammed down. That’s why we need to publicise what’s happening and get it out in the open, because what the government is doing is against our democratic rights. We’re supposed to have freedom of speech right? In a democracy, you’re supposed to have many voices and they’re not all supposed to agree with each other.’’
Focusing on prime minister Harper she said:
“We have a prime minister running this country like it is a corporation. The Canadian citizens are employees of corporation Canada. When the employees step out of line and say something that is against the policy of that company, they get squashed down. That is wrong, Canada is not a company it’s a democracy and we got to be able to speak out. The Harper government is relying on the complacency that we won’t speak out.’’
The art show ‘Banned on The Hill’ has now turned into a book, launched by a crowdfunded campaign. On that campaign she says:
“We have already reached the initial fundraising goal of $5000, but we can do so much more. If we can double or even triple that amount I can take the message to other cities. I would like to take it to Washington. It is expensive, if there is enough funds I could go down there and speak.”
Finally Franke James said she is very keen to get as many as possible involved in the campaign and you can donate as little as $1 and help spread the campaign on social media.
You can watch the full interview here (variable quality)
Sub edited by Charlotte Paton