Manitoba premier won’t say how he communicates with staff while in Costa Rica

Pallister mum on talks with staff while on vacation

WINNIPEG — Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister cited security concerns Monday as he refused to answer opposition questions about how he stays in touch with staff while at his vacation home in Costa Rica.

Pallister has been criticized since saying last year he plans to spend up to eight weeks a year at his vacation property. He has since said it will be closer to five weeks this year.

Pallister has repeatedly said he regularly communicates with staff and is always accessible, but refused to say how Monday as he appeared before a legislature committee.

“I’m trying to protect the confidentiality and the information flow that I’m responsible for as premier at all times, and I’ll continue to do that because cabinet confidence matters,” Pallister said in response to questions from NDP justice critic Andrew Swan.

“What (Swan) is interpreting as reluctance is really a very, very sincere commitment to make sure that I don’t say or do anything that would give less security to the information flows on a daily basis.”

Swan said there is no reason the premier could not specify how he communicates â€” via landline, cellphone, email or some other avenue.

“He claims his government is being open and transparent, yet he won’t even answer simple questions that are very specific,” Swan said.

Documents obtained by The Canadian Press under the province’s freedom-of-information law show Pallister did not send or receive any calls on his government-issued cellphone during a two-week trip to Costa Rica last December.

Documents obtained by the New Democrats under the same law indicate there were no records of phone calls between the premier and three senior staff members — his communications manager, chief of staff and director of issues management â€” during Pallister’s last four trips to Costa Rica.

Pallister has previously said he covers all his communication costs in Costa Rica himself, which leaves open the possibility that he uses a personal cellphone.

He has also said he rarely, if ever, uses email because he prefers the more direct interaction of phone calls, but told the committee he uses “a variety of email accounts.”

Swan told the committee he was disappointed the premier could not provide details to prove that he stays on top of work while in Costa Rica.

Pallister said he would seek advice into whether he should reveal which senior staff he communicated with and when.

In the meantime, he said Swan should know that he keeps on top of events.

“I want the member to be assured that I stay in regular touch and I’m accessible, through my office, to every member of our team as is needed.”

Steve Lambert, The Canadian Press

Just Posted

Motor vehicle incident causes front end damage

Two cars appeared to be involved in an accident in Penticton on Monday evening

Sex assaults on stepdaughters gets four years

Assaults on the girls, 9 and 12, spanned over months from summer to November last year

Sentencing turns to trial, as guilty plea struck

Kevin Simons denied having possession of a knife during a break-and-enter last August

Greyhound announces rural fund plan

Greyhound is lobbying the B.C. government to subsidize rural bus routes

Attempted murder charge up in the air after victim’s death

Without Thomas Szajko’s testimony, alleged shooter Afshin Ighani could get off on that charge

VIDEO: New series takes in-depth look at sexual harassment in B.C.

Black Press takes a hard look at sexual harassment in B.C.

200 Russians to compete in Olympics as neutrals

The Russian Olympic Committee expects 200 to compete in South Korea

Researchers claim the ‘man flu’ does exit

Review of scientific studies suggests ‘man flu’ may be more intense: researcher

Trudeau appoints Supreme Court chief justice

Prime Minister Trudeau appoints Richard Wagner as Supreme Court chief justice

MP Report: Trade barriers a real problem to Okanagan wineries

Richard Cannings is a member of the NDP and the South Okanagan-West Kootenay riding MP

Liberal Hogg wins South Surrey-White Rock byelection over Conservative Findlay

B.C. riding to be represented by non-conservative for first time in decades

Six-year-old boy needs $19,000 a month to treat rare form of arthritis

Mother of sick Sooke boy asks government to help fund treatments

Environmental groups slam NDP decision to continue with Site C

Construction industry, meanwhile, is cautiously optimistic about how the project will look

Be ladder safe both at work and home

WorkSafeBC wants you to keep safe while hanging those Christmas lights this year

Most Read