January 13, 2017 5:13 pm
Updated: January 13, 2017 5:20 pm

Brian Pallister defends Costa Rica trips in Toronto

Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister speaking in Toronto on Friday.

Christopher Katsarov / The Canadian Press

WINNIPEG — Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister told reporters in Toronto he plans on spending five weeks in Costa Rica this year.

Recently, Pallister said he spends between six and eight weeks per year at his Costa Rican vacation home.

“I’m accessible every day and no more than a phone call away and no more than a day away from Manitoba,” said Pallister at a business lunch in Toronto where he discussed the state of the province.

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“We don’t begrudge him his vacation, that’s not the issue. It’s whether he’s actually able to do the job the way he’s supposed to be doing it as premier of Manitoba and that’s clearly not possible from Costa Rica,” said Manitoba NDP finance critic James Allum.

Allum argues not having daily, face-to-face briefings hampers Pallister’s ability to stay on top of developing files and the day-long trip back to Manitoba means he wouldn’t be able to quickly respond to an emergency.

However, Pallister cabinet minister Scott Fielding said he can always get in touch with the Premier, even if Pallister has said he doesn’t like using email.

“The premier’s available at any moment in the day, you can get a hold of people on phones or any means of communication you can have, I can tell you the Premier’s very much engaged in all aspects of government,” said Fielding.

Fielding said Pallister has been especially engaged in leading talks about what the next budget will look like.

Pallister defended the amount of time he spends in Costa Rica by saying it gives him a chance to spend time with his wife and daughters and that he still works while he’s on vacation.

“I work 90 per cent of the time when I’m down there. I’m a pretty effective manager of time,” said Pallister.

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