Skip to main content

Alberta Environment Minister Shannon Phillips announces details of a bill introduced in the legislature in Edmonton on Nov. 1, 2016.Dean Bennett/The Canadian Press

Alberta's environment minister says she's not responsible for a controversial tweet advising people to eat less meat.

Shannon Phillips tweeted on Friday that the message, which was posted on her Twitter account on Jan. 2, came from a staff person during a period when Phillips says she was away from her Twitter account.

Phillips says the tweet was regrettable and that she has been assured it won't happen again.

The tweet began by suggesting anyone who needs a New Year's resolution should consider taking the Green Challenge by Environment Lethbridge, which is an organization based in Phillips' constituency.

The tweet says the challenge advises people to "reuse shopping bags, take shorter showers, unplug electronics devices, eliminate vehicle idling and eat less meat."

Opposition Leader Jason Kenney tweeted in response that people are free to eat what they want, and it should stay that way.

"As someone who supports Alberta's farmers and ranchers – and enjoys a good steak from time to time – I will not be taking the NDP's advice," said Kenney, of the United Conservative Party, on Twitter.

While Alberta's oil industry has typically commanded many headlines in recent years, the beef industry is still a massive economic driver in the province.

The Green Challenge by Environment Lethbridge runs between Jan. 15 and Feb. 15 and encourages people to reduce their climate footprint by focusing on five areas. It asks for people to go meatless for one day each week.

Its website says meat production and consumption is one of the leading generators of greenhouse gases.

The explanation from Phillips about the tweet followed a series of other tweets on Friday where she noted her support for the meat sector. She said she comes from a family of beef producers, adding that her grandfather came to Canada in 1919 and his cow-calf operation became one of Alberta's most successful farm family operations.

"My tweet was about a local enviro challenge and was in no way meant to offend the industries that are vital to our province's culture and economy. We know that the rhetoric from Jason Kenney and the UCP is often overheated," Phillips said on Twitter.

The series of tweets went on to blame the staffer.

"So all this is to say, I was away from my twitter account around NY Day, and the tweet that came from a staff person was regrettable," the tweet said.

The relationship with the U.S. and an aging population are some of the trials Canada will face in the future according to some provincial leaders. Ontario’s premier says strengthening ties with the U.S. will continue into the new year.

The Canadian Press