On Tuesday 2 January, a tweet apparently from Alberta’s environment minister Shannon Phillips encouraged anyone looking for a New Year’s resolution to consider eating less meat.
It subsequently emerged that it was one of her staff who wrote the tweet. But as it came from Phillips’ official account, it appeared to be that she was advocating a cut in meat consumption, sparking a furious backlash online.
Phillips was forced to respond and tweeted a string of messages defending her support of the meat industry on Friday 6 January.
In 14 tweets, Phillips defended her record, stating she had been “personally involved” in a number of initiatives to advance agri-food industry’s agenda: she supported Bill 9, which normalised beef producers’ check-off revenues; pushed forward on-farm efficiency programmes; and backed the country’s supercluster agriculture initiative, to name a few.
After her series of tweets, Phillips, who comes from a family of beef ranchers, called the first tweet that sparked the controversy “regrettable”. It was posted by one of her staff when she was away from her twitter account. She assured her thousands of followers that it would not happen again.
The controversial tweet encouraged people looking for a New Year’s resolution to take the Green Challenge, an initiative run by sustainability organisation Environment Lethbridge.
Its challenge advises people to use reusable shopping bags, take shorter showers, unplug electronic devices that are not in use, stop vehicle idling and eat less meat for a month from 15 January.