Edmonton

Shannon Phillips helped with 'some grammar' on activist how-to book

Shannon Phillips co-wrote the foreword for the 2004 book “An Action a Day Keeps Global Capitalism Away,” written by Mike Hudema, now a campaigner for Greenpeace Alberta.
Environment Minister Shannon Phillips is downplaying her role in a decade-old activist handbook. (Jason Franson/Canadian Press)

Alberta Environment Minister Shannon Phillips is downplaying her involvement in an activist's handbook that she admits is radical.

Phillips co-wrote the foreword for the 2004 book "An Action a Day Keeps Global Capitalism Away" by Mike Hudema, a campaigner for Greenpeace Alberta. At the time, Phillips worked with him as a researcher at the University of Alberta Students' Union.

"Well, yes I do, "Phillips said when asked in an interview if she thought the book was radical.

"At the time I was one of Mike Hudema's employees. I helped him with some grammar and that's really the extent of my involvement."

She made the comments after coming under fire for her role in the book by the Wildrose party at the legislature. 

The Wildrose claimed the book's "radical and staunch ideology" for advocating forms of protest - including eating election ballots, scaling buildings and forms of civil disobedience — are offside with the values of everyday Albertans and will be a concern to industry. 

Statements by Hudema in the book's preface suggest Phillips was more involved than minor editing.

"It would not have been possible to put this book together without her," Hudema wrote. "She pushed me to write it, edited my work and contributed to the content."

Phillips said those were his words, not hers.

"Mike is often quite effusive and that's fine," she said. "My role was very minimal."

The publisher included a passage on the copyright page warning readers to seek legal advice before using some of the book's suggestions.

"Some activities outlined in this book could, in certain circumstances, involve violations of federal criminal laws, provincial laws, or municipal laws, or expose activists to liability in civil actions.

"Readers are advised to seek legal advice before undertaking any activity that entails a risk of legal consequence. The publisher assumes no liability for the consequences of any activity undertaken by readers."

When CBC read that passage to Phillips, she stressed her "name is not attributed to that." She added:  "My name is attributed to the introduction. It was a co-writer of the introduction."

Phillips said she has never engaged in civil disobedience nor does she advocate it for others.

Hudema declined to comment.

Notley under fire 

During question period, Wildrose energy critic Leela Aheer asked Premier Rachel Notley what she thought about Phillips' involvement with the book.

"This radical book calls for blockades and street protests. It refers to our energy industry as genocide,"  Aheer said. 

Notley responded: "I think that the folks over there are confusing writing the foreword for a book with writing the book."

After Aheer referred to Hudema as "the radical's radical," Notley lobbed her own insult about the Wildrose party's former leader Danielle Smith.

"Let's just go back three and a half years, when the former leader of that party publicly said in an election debate she didn't think climate change was real. That's radical, my friends."

Phillips is holding a news conference Thursday to talk about the next steps the government is taking on climate change.

With files from the CBC's Ashley Geddes

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