The intersection of govt, art and politics

Franke James creates irreverent even whimsical art with a message about the environment, oil sands and climate change but when a federal bureaucrat accused her of creating a Fantasy, she filed an Access to Information request and discovered an email trail indicating officials at the Foreign Affairs Dept don't seem to like her art and pulled funding because her work isn't consistent with government interests. She says that opinion ended plans for a European art tour.

Part One of The Current


Its Wednesday, November 16th.

A new report finds Canada's Employment Insurance system "unjust and inefficient".

Currently, the only thing more unjust and inefficient -- is not having a job.

This is the Current.

The intersection of govt, art and politics - Franke James

Last spring, Canadian artist Franke James was offered an exciting opportunity. An Non-governmental organization in Croatia was offering to buy some of her work and use it to educate young people about the effects of climate change, a common theme in her art.

The NGO thought it had secured 5,000 dollars from the Canadian Government to support the project. But then suddenly, that money -- and the opportunity -- were gone. Franke James believes it was pulled because Ottawa didn't appreciate her criticisms of Canada's record on climate change. Ottawa denies that ... and insists the funding was never even offered. It also says her allegations are "a fantasy of her own making."

But now, an access to information request reveals a different story. Franke James was in our Toronto studio.

We aired a reading of an e-mail sent by Sylvie Govain, an official with the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade to the Croatian NGO, Nektarina Non Profit . It appears to establish that the Canadian Government offered 5,000 dollars.

We read from another e-mail sent by Jeremy Wallace, the Deputy Director in the Climate Change office of the Department of Foreign Affairs to Debra Price, the legal counsel at Canada's Embassy in Romania. It was obtained by Access to Information and as you'll hear, parts of it have been blacked out.

We requested an interview with Jeremy Wallace, but our request was declined.

Franke James is a Toronto-based artist whose work focuses on climate change. You can see the full slate of documents released to her on her website,

The intersection of govt, art and politics - Toby Heap

Franke James has the support of several groups across the country including The Writer's Union, PEN Canada, and Corporate Knights magazine. Toby Heaps is the Editor and publisher of Corporate Knights magazine. He was in Toronto.

The intersection of govt, art and politics

Now, other people believe the federal government can be a patron of the arts, and still be selective of what it supports. Tom Flanagan is a professor of political science at the University of Calgary, and a fellow at the Fraser Institute. He was in Calgary.

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