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

VIDEO: emergency landing near Langley airport

Plane lost power during take-off

Crash on 200 Street in Langley Township

Report of traffic congestion following late morning accident

Surrey’s Justin Sourdif to debut for Vancouver Giants tonight in Langley

Last month, he suited up for Team BC in the WHL Cup and was named tournament all-star.

Heavy downpours expected in parts of Metro Vancouver

Heavy rain will begin to ease off Sunday evening as the frontal system moves south out of the area

Police investigate string of overnight fires in North Delta

Suspected arson caused damage to vehicles, signage in the area, Delta Police say

VIDEO: Rare comic showing Superman’s 1st appearance to be auctioned

The 1938 comic features Superman hoisting a car over his head

Tips for keeping your personal data safe, from the experts

Volunteers use drones in search for missing women

Lights to turn blue ahead of funeral for fallen Abbotsford police officer

Buildings across B.C. are going blue Saturday night in honour of Const. John Davidson

Ride-share pioneer drives up quietly to B.C. battleground

Lyft approaches B.C. without Uber bombast, eyes small towns

Crash shuts down Highway 91 in Richmond for hours

The stretch of highway was closed for more than 6 hours due to a multi-vehicle accident

VIDEO: Rare comic showing Superman’s 1st appearance to be auctioned

The 1938 comic features Superman hoisting a car over his head

Pine beetles from Jasper National Park moving into commercial forest

In 2014, beetle activity went from a few spots around Jasper’s townsite to rampant

VIDEO: Tragically Hip members, Alex Trebek receive Order of Canada

Newest recipients join 6,897 Canadians such as Christine Sinclair, Graham Greene and Mark Messier

AC/DC’s Malcolm Young dies at 64

‘Malcolm was a songwriter, guitarist, performer, producer and visionary who inspired many.’

Most Read