WATCH: Victoria artist Franke James claims the federal government pulled the funding for her art exhibition after learning she spoke out about climate change. Mike Le Couteur explains.
It’s been four years, but Franke James has won a partial victory against the federal government’s 2011 decision to retract funding for her European art show.
After a complaint to the Office of the Information Commissioner, she was given internal emails outlining the government’s decision, with most of the previous redactions removed.
“It just inspires me to work harder,” she says from her Victoria home.
“They are going to do that with C-51, only worse.”
In 2011, the government offered Franke a $5,000 grant in support of her art show, which was to showcase her views on global warming through illustrated essays.
However, just before the tour of 20 European cities was to start, her funding was revoked by the Foreign Affairs department’s climate change division. They said the funding would “run counter to Canada’s interests,” but wouldn’t elaborate. When Franke tried to get access to internal emails about the situation, she was told most of them would remain private because they were exempted from disclosure.
“Due to controversial views on energy issues, particularly on oil sands, the government had been wrongly applying these high level security clauses. It was to black out, redact material which was embarrassing to the government, and which was partisan,” she says.
Over the last four years, she’s gotten access to 2,172 documents from four different departments.
The federal government stands by their decision.
“Canadian taxpayer dollars should be used to promote, not disparage, Canadian industry. We will continue to represent the interests of Canada and Canadian jobs,” wrote Johanna Quinney, Press Secretary to the Minister of National Defence.
Franke says she’ll continue to speak out on the issue of global warming.
“It’s a really serious problem, and we have a window of opportunity to act now.”
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