Who is Andrew Frank?

Andrew Frank, who on Monday was fired from ForestEthics for going public with accusations that someone in the PMO labeled the organization an “Enemy of the Government of Canada” and of the “people of Canada,” was an annoying classmate. Actually, he could be a complete pain in the ass. Unlike the rest of us Radio and Television Arts students at Ryerson University in Toronto, Andrew had no aspirations of being a writer, director or broadcaster. Unlike the rest of us, he wasn’t after fame and the media spotlight. Instead, having decided that news and entertainment media were having an unduly negative influence on society and culture, Andrew moved from a small British Columbian community to Canada’s largest city simply to understand those forces better. To become better equipped to operate in a media-dominated world.

But that wasn’t the most annoying thing about him. He was indisputably one of the best of us. Nothing you did or created ever looked remotely impressive next to Andrew’s projects. When Andrew decided to shoot a pseudo-demonicĀ  birth scene in a candle-lit church using a tracking shot, there was no going half-way. He somehow convinced a downtown Anglican church (even after they had seen the script) to let him move in, light the candles and build the track. When he decided that the perfect music to underscore this scene was a Led Zeppelin song, he didn’t settle for one of the widely-available rip-offs, nor did he do what many students would probably do and just use the song and hope he didn’t get caught. He went and secured the damned rights to the damned Let Zeppelin song. (All of this for a scene that, to my memory, was just a brief flash-back in an otherwise straightforward video.)

That wasn’t the most annoying thing about him either. If you were lucky enough to get to work on one of his projects, he’d run you ragged. While creating what we believe to be North America’s first TV pilot written and directed in American Sign Language by deaf (some identified as Deaf) actors and improvisers, we worked 18-hour-days, mostly outside, in the winter, for weeks. At 1 a.m. when you can no longer feel your hands, are running on 4 hours sleep, know you’re starting again at 6 a.m. and still have to strike the set and load the truck, it’s easy to decide that “that last take was good enough.” But Andrew always wanted to get one more shot. He knew it could be better. He knew what “right” looked like, and he wasn’t willing to compromise.

That was the most annoying thing about him. Andrew’s success, from what I could tell, was the result of two things: the exceptional amount of effort that he put in, and the high standards he refused to let go. Even while still at school, those values extended beyond school projects into activism. At the end of our program Andrew moved back to B.C. and became a full-time environmental campaigner, often working for free on initiatives he either created himself or strongly believed in.

Most of us don’t operate with such a strong unwillingness to compromise, especially when it comes to our own employment. In their response to Andrew’s open letter, ForestEthics doesn’t give any indication that the very serious accusations he makes aren’t accurate. In fact, by saying that Andrew was fired for “[violating] the confidence of the organization,” they suggest that what he revealed is accurate information the organization hoped to keep secret in the interest of not biting the hands that feed them. And as Andrew himself points out in a blog post this morning, denials coming from the PMO and Tides Canada (an organization that funds ForestEthics) aren’t as absolute as they could be either.

I haven’t yet spoken with Andrew about what happened. I don’t know anything more than what’s been publicly reported. What I do know from my years working closely with him is that Andrew is not motivated by fame, sets high standards for himself and those around him and strongly values honesty. I know that when he’s a pain in the ass, it’s usually because he’s doing what needs to be done when no one else will do it. And when he decides what’s right, he doesn’t settle for anything less.

Regardless of what you think of the Northern Gateway Pipeline, if you believe Canadians deserve to know the truth about what kinds of chill tactics are being used against NGOs and ordinary citizens, please join this cause.

9 thoughts on “Who is Andrew Frank?

  1. Haha, what a great post! Now it all makes sense to me!
    Thank you for sharing this.

    Dang, that dude is ANNOYING! :)

  2. Dear Chris – We would like to thank you for the unsolicited support you have given our son Andrew. We are proud of both his honesty and his integrity. We are disappointed that his former employers have caved into pressure from the PMO but like Andrew, we are hopeful that the truth of the situation will one day be revealed. “Be the change you want to see in the world” is a saying that speaks loudly of Andrew’s intentions. With support from individuals such as yourself, he will continue to work towards a more just society. Thank you – Jack and Heather Frank

  3. Finally–someone with both balls and knowhow.Yes we must unite and stand up together to fight corrupt and undemocratic government.We are so far into the loss of our freedoms already if we don’t stand soon it will be too late.
    Thankyou for integrity and your defence of truth Andrew.We need men like you in Ottawa.Please lets fight together so we can win together—let’s get Canada back to us and let Harper know we are his boss–not vice-versa–Steve Hetherington

  4. Thank you, Andrew, for taking your stand and to your parents for their part in instilling good values in you. Heard you over CKNW this afternoon and was impressed with your direction. We, all, need to become more aware of the true colours of our present government. Go, Andrew!

  5. It has always been people who are ‘a pain in the arse’ who have brought about change. They hang onto their cause like a pit-bull (another creature which attracts derogatory comment) and don’t let go till the wrong has been righted. The rest of us (nice folks) owe them a great deal of thanks for their causes concern us all.

  6. Great post Chris,
    I have had the pleasure of knowing a few characters like the one you described above. It seems like every once in a while nature burbs an Andrew and the rest of us are left scrambling to keep up. Forest “Ethics” , yea right! Count your self lucky Andrew, to be free of them.
    All the Best,
    Walt McGinnis

  7. So it looks like the PM won round one. How many other Enviro organizations will now back off.? The Conservatives, in their corporate mantra, have now declared war on all high profile opposition to the Enbridge pipeline.

  8. Thanks, Andrew, for defending (what I believe to be) Canadian values. Thanks for being “annoying” for the right reason(s).

  9. you are not alone andrew….in every corner of this province there are people inspired by the spirit that moves you….it moves in all of us…some don’t wish to be moved in the direction of truth, justice and liberty….this is the battle we are fighting with you….our small woodlots in bc will provide building materials and jobs while maintaining uneven stand diversity and increase top sizes back to old growth….change is here! thank you for your work!

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