Q24N – The Premier of the Manitoba (Canada) is under fire for his vacationing in Costa Rica, though not for his choice to spend his time in the land of Pura Vida, but for being “incomunicado” with his office while doing do.

Manitoba (Canada) Premier Brian Pallister in his office Friday with a sample of the reading material he had with him in Costa Rica. Photo WAYNE GLOWACKI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

“The Premier of Manitoba is not a semi-retirement position,” said Andrew Swan, the NDP’s justice critic. “I remember being on holidays and sneaking out to the hotel to make phone calls, to receive briefings. I would receive documents by email and review them on holiday time.”According to a report by the Winnipeg Free Press, Brian Pallister appears to be a premier who doesn’t use email — a revelation raising questions about how much work he is actually doing while residing at his Costa Rica.

The Free Press says it has obtained records that show for the first three months as Premier, Pallister had no email communication with any of his senior political staff, including his chief of staff and director of communications. Moreover, in response to questions from the Free Press, Pallister’s office has disclosed the Premier is not receiving any documents once he has left Manitoba to spend weeks at a time in Costa Rica.

The Free Press says the Premier doesn’t seem to have a personal government email account. There is no Brian Pallister registered in the legislature’s email database, and premier@leg.gov.mb.ca is a general email account, used by staff for general communication from the premier’s office, writes the Free Press.

When Pallister’s office made clear the Premier would be spending the Christmas holidays and much of January in Costa Rica, the Conservative party (Tories) went to great lengths to argue he would continue in his role as Premier by maintaining regular contact with his cabinet and staff.

But how?

“It would be surprising for someone to head out of the province for weeks at a time and not have measures in place to be receiving documents securely and be up to speed on what is happening,” said Swan. “That might have been the way it worked in the ’50s, but that is not the way it works now.”

Royce Koop, a political studies professor at the University of Manitoba, said modern technology offers the opportunity for Pallister to work remotely and still help govern the province while in Costa Rica — as long as he uses these tools.

“You can access information remotely and direct people remotely. But there are also limits to this… there is some utility to people coming together and working together in an office, and there is usefulness to being present,” said Koop, who said Pallister likely corresponds by phone frequently. He said when Pallister is in Manitoba, having staff to facilitate communications likely compensates for him not using email.

Click here to read the complete Winnipeg Free Press report on the Manitoba’s Premier “incomumunicado in Costa Rica”.

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