Sunday 26 September 2021

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

Brian Pallister says he can't answer for security reasons

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Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister. (THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Q COSTA RICA – Announcing his plans to spend up to eight weeks a year in Costa Rica, Manitoba (Canada) Premier Brian Pallister continues to be criticized by the Opposition, in particular for his refusal to answer questions about how he stays in touch with his office while at his vacation home.

Pallister has previously said he rarely uses his government email account and prefers direct phone conversations.

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At a legislature committee, New Democrat (NDP) justice critic Andrew Swan asked Pallister which of his staff and caucus members Pallister has spoken with by phone while he has been in Costa Rica.

Pallister said that for security reasons he doesn’t want to reveal how he communicates while down south.

Pallister says he stays in touch regularly and covers all communications costs himself while in Costa Rica.

“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 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.”

Despite the mystery surrounding his way of keeping in touch, Pallister assures he regularly communicates with staff and is always accessible.

Documents obtained by the New Democrats under the the province’s freedom-of-information law show no records of phone calls between the premier and three senior staff members — his communications manager, chief of staff and director of issues management — during Pallister’s last four trips to Costa Rica.

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No reason was given as to why those phone calls did not show up on any records.

“I use all kinds of ways of communicating,” Pallister told committee, without going into further detail.

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