Yonge and Lawrence artist alleges censorship
Franke James claims grant pulled due to work depicting PM
Local artist’s work is critical of Stephen Harper’s stance on oil sands
A local artist claims she has now collected more than 1,500 internal government documents through Access to Information Act (ATI) requests, which she alleges show that members of the Canadian government “blacklisted” her following her criticism of the Harper administration.
Franke James’ written and illustrated work focuses on Canadian sustainability and green issues. One of her visual essays, called “What’s Harper Afraid Of?,” criticizes the prime minister for his stance on the Alberta oil sands. Released e-mail conversations suggest James was on track to receive $5,000 from the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada (DFAIT) toward an international art tour but was seemingly rejected after staff saw examples of her work online. James alleges that DFAIT also pressured tour organizers not to show her work.
“It’s censorship. It was a horrible thing to have the art show cancelled,” she said. “It was probably the biggest opportunity of my life.”
In an e-mail, DFAIT spokesperson Jean-Bruno Villeneuve wrote of the released documents: “Funding was never withdrawn, nor was it guaranteed.
Ultimately, Canadian missions did not fund this artist’s European tour.”