OTTAWA—Franke James is a visual artist, storyteller and environmental advocate who believes in the power of one to effect change.
You might remember her: the north Toronto woman fought city hall and won permission to un-pave her driveway and sow grass and plants instead.
She sold her family’s SUV. She paints, delivers speeches, blogs and tweets, urging people to do what they can to save the planet.
But James fears that at a time when Canada is negotiating a free trade deal in Europe and trying to combat moves overseas that could label Canadian oil sands exports as “dirty,” she’s one voice that’s become too loud for the Harper government.
And the sudden cancellation of Ottawa’s support for a European tour of her work this summer is payback, she says. James was told this month that support was no longer available from embassies across Europe, and the fate of the tour is now in limbo.
James is author of a critical visual essay about Alberta’s tar sands. She has publicly challenged Prime Minister Stephen Harper to fight climate change. But she has taken aim at other leaders too. In the 2006 and 2008 elections, she and her husband created a satirical “whack the PM” game online to prompt voters to “smack some sense” into federal party leaders on the environment.
James says she’s voted for and donated to all parties in the past “except the Bloc Québécois.” In the 2008 campaign, she endorsed a carbon tax, a Liberal policy. In the 2011 campaign, she endorsed Green Party Leader Elizabeth May.
Her visually bright artworks and provocative essays came to the attention of a Zagreb, Croatia-based environmental group called Nektarina Non Profit...Great. Maybe Croatia can help finance her "art".
Update: Here's an example of her "artistry." I'm no artist, but I think--no, I know--I can do better than that.