Franke James Update

by: Heather on 12/13/2011
Posted in: Activism , Climate Change

Earlier this year we wrote about Franke James' struggles with the Canadian government in Franke James Blacklisted?. Franke continues to struggle to raise awareness of the issue of political interference in environmental communications. Yesterday New Society Publishers released the following statement:

PEN Canada and The Writers’ Union of Canada have recently taken a step to defend the artist and author Franke James.

The two respected associations have released a joint statement condemning government treatment of James, author of Bothered by My Green Conscience (New Society Publishers, 2009). New Society Publishers concurs with their stated concerns regarding political interference in artistic funding. We stand behind our authors’ rights to express their views and opinions freely and openly and to be free from formal or informal censorship in adherence with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

For more information please visit Franke James' website or see the PEN/TWUC press release on the PEN site.


Yesterday Elizabeth May's office also submitted a question to Parliament regarding this issue on behalf of The Green Party of Canada. A written reply must be received within 45 days. The text of the question is below, and also appears on the official Canadian government website here.


 Q-3802 — December 12, 2011 — Ms. May (Saanich—Gulf Islands) — With regard to the recommendation made by Jeremy Wallace, Deputy Director of Climate Change at the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT), that funding provisionally approved on April 29, 2011 by the DFAIT Planning, Advocacy, and Innovation Office, for the purpose of supporting an art exhibition by Canadian artist Franke James in Eastern Europe, be cancelled based on a determination that, “concerns that the funding proposed would not be consistent with our interests (…) and would in fact run counter to Canada’s interests more broadly”: 

(a) what specific criteria and evidence did the government use to determine that Ms. James art exhibition would constitute a threat to the interests of Canada; 

(b) for each correspondence, including e-mails, that relate to this determination, including those between Ministers’ exempt staff and departmental staff at DFAIT, (i) what are its details, (ii) what are the names of the sender and recipients, (iii) on what date was it sent; 

(c) on what evidence did DFAIT rely in order to justify the redactions, under Sections 20(1)(c), 21(1)(b), and 15(1) of the Access to Information Act, to the correspondence released to Ms. James under her Access to Information Act request on this matter on August 16, 2011; and 

(d) with regard to the Right to Freedom of Speech enshrined in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, on what legal basis did DFAIT ground its decision to withdraw support and revoke Ms. James’ allotted funding?


Click here for a roundup of the media stories (including an excellent interview with Franke on CBC's The Current), and click here to sign the Care2 petition.


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