EDMONTON – Alberta Environment Minister Shannon Phillips is vehemently rejecting opposition accusations she is a potential liability for her role in a decade-old book that urged protesters to break the law.
“This is an attempt to not talk about the real issues and what the government’s agenda actually is,” Phillips said Wednesday in an interview.
“This is a big portfolio and I am up to that task. That’s what I’m doing today, and that’s what I have worked pretty well my entire adult life to achieve,” she added, her hand thumping her desktop to emphasize her points.
Phillips was responding to questions over her role in the book titled “An Action a Day Keeps Global Capitalism Away.”
The book was written in 2004 by Greenpeace activist Mike Hudema. It detailed ways to protest government and business actions and to undermine institutions such as the mainstream media.
It provided a guide to organizing blockades or sit-in occupations, disrupting public events, defacing billboards and traffic signs, and shoving pies in the faces of public figures.
It gave tips on how to use the mainstream media to get the message out, but also provided ideas on how to undermine the credibility of the media with planted or false stories.
“The media hoax reveals that the media do not always (if ever) know what they’re doing, much less present the truth,” wrote Hudema.
Phillips co-wrote the introduction, and Hudema in the book credited her as the book’s editor and key contributor.
“It would not have been possible to put this book together without her,” Hudema wrote in the preface. “She pushed me to write it, edited my work, and contributed to its content. I owe her a heavy debt.”
On Wednesday, Phillips said that is not so.
She said she was strictly a line editor, adjusting paragraphs and fixing grammar.
She said she did not contribute to the content, did not espouse law-breaking then and does not condone it now.
“I moved some commas around,” said Phillips. “Mike didn’t have particularly good grammar, and I do.”
Earlier Wednesday in question period, the Wildrose party said Phillips’ editorial work will make the business and industrial sectors even more jittery about the agenda of the new NDP government.
“This radical book calls for blockades and street protests. It refers to our energy industry as genocide,” Wildrose energy critic Leela Aheer told the house during question period as Phillips sat across the aisle from her and smiled thinly.
“The radicalism of the environment minister is an issue.”
Phillips did not answer questions in the house, but Premier Rachel Notley accused the Wildrose of being misguided and grandstanding.
“The folks over there are confusing writing the forward for a book with writing the book,” said Notley.
“(And) when you’re in opposition I understand that it is very tempting to engage in mudslinging, which is what these folks are doing right now.”
The premier added that the Wildrose party is no stranger to radical ideology, noting that under former leader Danielle Smith the party questioned the scientific validity of climate change.
Hudema could not be immediately reached for comment.