Philip is a native of Victoria B.C., educated at the University of British Columbia and then at the University of Leiden, The Netherlands, where he obtained a Ph.D. in animal behaviour. From 1965, he worked in fisheries in St Andrews (New Brunswick), Nanaimo (B.C.), and Spain. He returned to Victoria in 1983.
Philip joined the Social Responsibility Committee of the First Unitarian Church of Victoria in 1994, with a particular interest in democracy and international affairs. He participated in CUC study groups on the environment, on globalization, and on democracy. He was elected president of Canadian Unitarians for Social Justice (CUSJ) in May 2002, retired in May 2006, and is currently Editor of Justnews, the newsletter of CUSJ.