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Banned on the Hill: A True Story about Dirty Oil and Government Censorship Paperback – May 13, 2013

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 376 pages
  • Publisher: The James Gang (May 13, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0991696107
  • ISBN-13: 978-0991696109
  • Product Dimensions: 9.9 x 7.9 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,173,026 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


TORONTO STAR: Franke James Goes to Washington - By Jane Gerster, Reporter
James used her art to turn the information she gleaned from the government into a book, *Banned on the Hill: A True Story about Dirty Oil and Government Censorship*. But the story doesn’t end there and James is continuing to use art to get back at the government and to advocate for the environment. “I’m really trying to tell basic truths,” she said. James is now experimenting with those messages: will the government pay more attention if Stephen Harper, re-imagined as an oil barrel with the words “Canada is the dirty old man” above him,” is steps away from Capitol Hill instead of Parliament Hill?

RABBLE: Franke James: Artist and activist extraordinaire! - By Christopher Majka
Franke James is a Canadian political and artistic phenomenon. A wicked thorn in the side of Stephen Harper; a woman fiercely passionate about the pressing need to address climate change; a witty and imaginative artist who would not acquiesce to having her work silenced and censored by the Harper government…

GRIST MAGAZINE: Artful Dodger: How one anti-Keystone activist fought the blacklist – By Claire Thompson
Canadian artist Franke James knows how to convey gloomy information without being a downer. She takes a relentlessly cheerful, self-deprecating approach to issues too often screamed about by scolds and trolls. (It’s an approach we here at Grist admire.) Her illustrated essays call out individuals, corporations, and governments for their inadequate responses to environmental threats, but in an unfailingly good-natured way more likely to make you grin than grimace. Though her art reaches a wide audience, James is no subversive revolutionary...

DOGWOOD: Blacklisted Activist Fights Back With Chilling Censorship Story - By Lyndsey Easton
James new book, Banned on the Hill: a True Story about Dirty Oil and Government Censorship, consists of eight visual essays that tell the incredible journey she’s been on from 2008 to 2013 and helps raise awareness about how the Harper government is silencing environmental voices.

VANCOUVER OBSERVER: Deep pocket PR vs. artist Franke James: the fight’s on - By Andrea Bennett
‘the stuff of legend’… The attempt to silence Franke James has, instead, ensured that both her work and her message are recognized around the world.

TORONTO STAR: Climate activist gets even with new book - By Raveena Aulakh, Environment Reporter
“The artist’s work dealt mostly with climate change, and was advocating a message that was contrary to the government’s policies on the subject.”
It cannot be easy being the “artist,” the subject of this 2011 email by a Foreign Affairs and International Trade spokesman, especially when her “contrary” message apparently cost her federal funding for a European art tour.
Franke James, the artist in question, first got mad — now she is getting even.
James, a Toronto-based activist with no shortage of gumption and political acumen, has turned the federal government’s efforts to silence her into a new book.
*Banned on the Hill: A True Story about Dirty Oil and Government Censorship* was released last week and tells the story of how Canadian bureaucrats withdrew support for James because her views on climate change didn’t match those held by the Harper government.
She has used access to information requests and visual essays to highlight how the Conservatives withdrew funding for the European art tour because, she writes, they didn’t like that she believes Canada is failing to act on climate change.
“As a Canadian citizen, to know that the government is interfering in private business is really shocking. It’s undemocratic,” said James. “If art has to agree with government policy, then art is government propaganda.”…
James hopes her book will also be a how-to guide for other activists. And she isn’t done yet.
She started an Indiegogo campaign to crowd-source $5,000 to advertise her cause in the Hill Times, an Ottawa political weekly, and to launch an outdoor campaign Monday in the capital. She has raised $5,550 so far.
Her ad, which began appearing in the Hill Times last Monday, says: “Do not talk about climate change. It is against government policy.”


GUARDIAN UK: Artist finds inspiration in Canadian government's attempt to silence her - By Suzanne Goldenberg, US environment correspondent

Visual essays by Franke James reveal how the ‘troublesome artist’ was targeted because her views on climate change clashed with the push to develop Alberta’s tar sands. Canada, under the government of Stephen Harper, has exhibited little patience for dissent. The government has muzzled government scientists, insulted Nasa climate experts, and dismissed environmental protesters as dangerous radicals. But there is apparently one woman whom the government can't shut up: theToronto environmental writer, illustrator and activist Franke James, who turned the efforts to silence her into material for a new book. Banned on the Hill: A True Story about Dirty Oil and Government Censorship, released this week, shows how Canadian bureaucrats tried to silence James because her views on climate change clashed with the Harper government's push to develop Alberta's tar sands. The story is told through visual essays as well as official emails obtained by James, in which government bureaucrats discuss the troublesome artist and her work. It also relies heavily on humour – some of it provided inadvertently by the government bureaucrats discussing what to do about James. "It became clear that they really do not like my art speaking about climate change and I was censored especially because I promoted policies that were different to theirs," she said… Unless there has been a major policy shift in the Harper government, the bureaucrats are unlikely to be done with James yet. Along with the book, she plans to take her campaign against the tar sands, and the Harper government's message control, on the road, putting up posters on street corners and bus shelters.

More About the Author

Franke James is a Canadian artist, author and activist. Her visual stories, games and videos are focused on the environment, ethics and social justice.

Banned on the Hill, published in May 2013, is Franke James third book. Through eight visual essays, James traces her personal journey as an active citizen discovering the power of speaking out. Interviewed in the Guardian UK newspaper in May 2013, James said that she hoped the book would serve as a how-to guide to other activists hoping to fight back against government censorship, especially with humour. "It's kind of like a judo flip, meaning that you can actually flip someone who is much bigger than you."


"This book makes you think, and it gets you angry. Bravo!"
CLAYTON RUBY, C.M., B.A., LL.B., LL.M., LL.D. (honoris causa)

"The Canadian government has clamped down on scientists who tell the truth about the tarsands--and it's tried to shut up artists too. Happily, Franke James is indefatigable!"

"Franke James' commitment to art, free expression and political commentary put her in the cross-hairs of Stephen Harper's Conservatives. See what the government didn't want the world to see."
ELIZABETH MAY, Leader, Green Party of Canada, MP for Saanich-Gulf Islands

"'Banned on the Hill' is such a feast for the eyes one could almost overlook the disturbing and sobering tale that it tells. In the battle to communicate the threat of climate change, we need all the ammunition we can muster. Franke brings it, with a deadly combination of artistic expression, verve, and wit."
MICHAEL E. MANN, Distinguished Professor, Penn State University and author of The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars

"Franke James uses wit, insight, and keen powers of observation to graphically portray hard political truths about Canada's Harper government, climate change, and our precious natural world."
LINDA SOLOMON, Founder, Publisher and Editor-in-chief, Vancouver Observer

"Oppression begins with the suppression of dissent. The first to be silenced are the artists and the activists. In Franke James, Stephen Harper found both. Franke is an example of how to effectively fight back." JOHN BENNETT, Executive Director, Sierra Club Canada

"No wonder the Canadian government thinks Franke James is dangerous. One recent Canadian economic study says 78% of proven Canadian fossil fuel reserves must stay in-ground to meet climate targets... Franke's art not only explains the global climate crisis in understandable and witty ways, but she's a pretty damn good organizer too, as her free speech campaign has proven. Not so smart, Canadian poobahs-- Franke James has something to say, and you really helped her get the word out."
MICHAEL NOBLE, Executive Director at Fresh Energy

"Franke James' work is honest, powerful and funny. Her work is not to be missed by anyone interested in climate change or the future of Canada!"
TZEPORAH BERMAN, Author and Co-founder ForestEthics

"Franke's visual essays are brilliant and incisive and help shine a light on one of our country's most pressing issues--the erosion of democracy. Her work should serve as an inspiration to concerned citizens everywhere."
EMMA GILCHRIST, Communications Director, Dogwood Initiative

"It is great! Some welcome gallows humor in the Through the Looking Glass World that is Harperland!"
DR. DAVID SCHINDLER, Killam Memorial Chair, University of Alberta

"Franke James fearlessly devotes her creative energy and artistic talent to stand up for Canadian democracy and the health of our planet. Her dedication can serve as a model for all who seek to restore Canada's reputation as a principled nation that must take action on climate change."
BRENDAN DEMELLE, Executive Director, DeSmogBlog

"Franke James is doing what's right for our country. We need more voices like her's to punch through the right wing rhetoric and bullying that has besieged our great country."
KEVIN GRANDIA, President of Spake Media House

"Whether deflating ethical oil or unraveling our access to information system, Franke James defends Canada's natural capital with provocative imagery and tough questions. Banned on the Hill may be the planet's most enjoyable how-to-write-to-your-elected official guide, and it reveals that the Harper regime can't bully every foe into submission."
ERIC RUMBLE, Editor-in-chief, Alternatives Journal

"Franke James isn't afraid to take on anyone, from the Harper government to big corporations. When my co-editor, Kim Blank, and I decided to edit a book of cultural readings for university students, we knew that we wanted James and Rachel Carson to anchor the conclusion on the environment."
STEPHEN EATON HUME, Author of Economics Writing

"While Canadians are busily working and trying to provide a future for their children the Harper government is busily working to assure the future for big oil and fossil fuel corporations. Franke James' work illustrates in delightful fashion how these goals are incompatible, incurring the wrath of the government in the process. We are left to ask ourselves, 'do we want the government suppressing free speech and interfering in the work of Canadian artists?'"
KARL KNOX, Radio Host, CJLO, Concordia University

"Franke James' art and activism embodies the good-hearted, creative, and compassionately critical voice in response to a world out of whack. This important book brings to light a government that would dare to silence such a sane and necessary voice."
JON-ERIK LAPPANO, Environmental Educator, Former Managing Editor of Corporate Knights

James two previous books "Bothered By My Green Conscience" and "Dear Office-Politics: the game everyone plays" were both published in 2009. In Bothered by My Green Conscience, she recounts her adventures in going green, which included selling her only car, an SUV, and fighting bureaucracy at City Hall for the right to build a green driveway. (She won!)

"Dear Office-Politics" won a 2010 Axiom Business Book Award in HR/Training. The Axiom Business Book Awards are dedicated to identifying the best business books published each year for the North American market. They are the only U.S.-based award contest focused solely on business books.

"James's splashy sense of humor and style catapults this book from the field of humdrum human resources exercises to an entertaining discussion of the pantheon of office types... Winner of an Axiom Business Book Award for 2010, Dear Office-Politics is recommended for team-building meetings, as well as for pleasure reading." ForeWord Reviews

"Bothered by My Green Conscience" won the 2010 Green Book Festival Award for Graphic Novels. Bruce Haring at the Green Book Festival said, "Franke's book is a sheer delight and the judges are proud to honor it with this award."

Franke's artwork and books have won awards and been featured in print, TV, radio and online in Canada, the USA and in many parts of the world. Her 2012 story, 'What is Harper afraid of?', has prompted more than 7,924 people to write to their local MPs and the Prime Minister. Her interactive quiz, How many climate deniers could you fight off? has been played more than 3,400 times, from Washington to Warsaw, Mumbai to Melbourne.

Franke James is a member of The Writers' Union of Canada, PEN Canada, and Canadian Artists Representation (CARFAC). Franke has delivered keynotes, speeches and workshops at educational events in Canada and the USA.

Franke is co-founder of The James Gang Art & Design, with over 20 years experience as a creative design and marketing professional. She has a Masters in Fine Arts from the University of Victoria, and a BFA from Mount Allison University. She lives in Toronto, where her favorite mode of transportation is walking.

Please visit to read more about Franke's environmental work.

Please visit to read Franke's advice on how to play the office politics game with integrity.

Customer Reviews

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Detong Choyin
Then this book, Banned on the Hill, will give you the inspiration and courage you need.
P. Okerlund
It's a combination of images captioned with text and some rebus-style writing.
Erich Jacoby-hawkins

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By dan murphy on June 6, 2013
Format: Paperback
What happens when a government yanks cultural funding in order to muzzle an artist who is "off message" on Canada's tarsands? If the artist is Franke James, you get one beautiful, colourful, well-documented and angry book that takes us from the offending art bound for Europe to the government e-mails that blacklisted it --- to the spirited push-back by artists and civil libertarians outraged over the censorship. Documenting the episode and its aftermath like a graphic novel, the book is gorgeous and defiant. And it's a tidy lesson for government: When you try to shut up an artist, the artist might just get a whole lot louder. A great read.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By greg on July 20, 2013
Format: Paperback
This book is a visual essay that easily captures the reader's attention about the current state of affairs in Ottawa regarding its lack of environmental concern. It is a fun to read, and is quite 'eye opening' about the Conservative Government interference with journalists, scientists, and environmentalists in their quest to improve the conditions of the environment.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Rev. F. Mark Mealing, Ph.D. on July 31, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A superb collection of well-founded criticisms of recent & current Federal policy & actions, by an artist-victim. Clever, engaging, & righteous.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Detong Choyin on April 6, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In 2011, Franke James was in the middle of planning for a solo 20-city tour art show and an introduction to a new international audience. The show was being funded in large part by the Canadian government with Prime Minister Stephen Harper at the helm.

"Banned on the Hill" is Franke's visual letter to Harper, published online and sent out in a press release across Canada that began,

* "Dear Prime Minister, You say a pollution tax would "WREAK HAVOC on our economy...
* ...Why are YOU making us CHOOSE between the ECONOMY
* and the ENVIRONMENT?
* You say a TAX on POLLUTION WILL WRECK OUR Economy. But it helped SWEDEN.
* Their economy GREW but their EMISSIONS SHRUNK. Why can't WE do that?..."

The letter continued like this. Each page filled with brilliantly strong and vibrant graphics, highlighting the simple words contained. Climate change and the tar sands and questions asking why something wasn't being done to stop both in their tracks got Franke banned by the Harper government. Along with being banned, the funding for her show was withdrawn just a week or so before it was to be shipped out. Adding insult to injury, Franke James and her work were then censored by the galleries that had previously found value in her work and booked her...instigated by Harper and his cronies.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper did that to little Franke James. No doubt, he figured she was this pretty youngish rather petite cute female person...he was going to show her what was what and exactly who she was dealing with. But Franke, after she got over her initial upset, turned that table around, to the world's delight.

"Banned on the Hill" is an activist's guide on how to bring down the big guy. The key? First, you need the truth on your side.
Read more ›
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