Rob Breakenridge: Minister’s apology for ‘eat less meat’ tweet misses the mark

File: Alberta Environment Minister Shannon Phillips.
File: Alberta Environment Minister Shannon Phillips. Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press

After an ill-advised tweet concerning the merits of eating meat, Environment Minister Shannon Phillips ended up indirectly providing some vindication to her critics.

There was some fierce debate last week as to whether the minister had done anything wrong when she promoted a Lethbridge group’s environmental challenge, which – among other things – urged people to “eat less meat.”

READ MORE: Alberta environment minister calls ‘eat less meat’ tweet on her account ‘regrettable’

It seemed to me – and to others – that it was a needless shot at Alberta’s beef, pork, and poultry industries, by implying that they are harmful and that we’d benefit from less of them. While the Alberta government has taken steps in other areas to promote the industry and open new markets, Phillips seemed to be undermining all of that.

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Those who were defending the minister, though, were left flat-footed after she took to Twitter over the weekend to express her regret for the comment.

READ MORE: PETA wants ‘meat tax’ to steer Canadians toward plant-based diet

Phillips boasted of her family’s own history in ranching and the steps her government has taken to promote the industry. She also took a shot at the opposition for playing up the controversy to distract from positive news on the jobless front.

She concluded by noting that “…the tweet that came from a staff person was regrettable. I’m assured it won’t happen again.” It’s rather weak on the minister’s part to throw a staffer under the bus when she’s supposedly trying to take ownership of the controversy. But nonetheless, it was important for her to set the record straight.

The NDP is perceived by many as having a propensity for slapping various industries in the face, so it doesn’t help that perception to have a prominent minister seemingly doing the same to another industry. It’s clear that many in the industry were confused and frustrated by the remark.

If people choose not to eat meat, well, that’s their decision. However, I don’t think the industry has anything to apologize for, nor do consumers of their product.

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Rob Breakenridge is host of “Afternoons with Rob Breakenridge” on Global News Radio 770 Calgary and a commentator for Global News.