Shannon Phillips, part of Alberta’s left-leaning New Democratic Party government, issued a challenge on Twitter to people looking for a New Year’s resolution earlier in the week that sounded like a environmental wish-list:
Need a resolution? @EnviroLeth Green Challenge: use reusable shopping bags, take shorter showers, unplug electronics devices, eliminate vehicle idling and eat less meat. The Challenge runs Jan 15-Feb 15. Register online environmentlethbridge.ca/greenchallenge/
That prompted the leader of the provincial United Conservative Party to hit back on Friday as Jason Kenney tweeted: “Why is the Environment Min. telling Albertans to ‘eat less meat’? Ppl are obviously free to eat what they like – and let’s keep it that way. As someone who supports Alberta’s farmers & ranchers – and enjoys a good steak from time to time – I will not be taking the NDP’s advice.”
Phillips quickly saw how Kenney — a veteran and high-profile cabinet minister in the former Stephen Harper Conservative Canadian government — was creating a very volatile wedge issue for the upcoming provincial election that Kenney is widely predicted to win.
On Saturday she responded on Twitter:
Of course we support AB’s beef and ag industry. 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’s insistence that she “comes from a family of beef producers” hasn’t washed with many Albertans, with one Twitter user asking, “Then why would you say eat less meat? You do realize where u live right?”