Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 13/1/2017 (1104 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
TORONTO — Premier Brian Pallister spoke to the Economic Club of Canada on Friday, hoping to persuade the country's business elite that Manitoba is an attractive destination for investment. Unfortunately for him, the media focused on another attractive destination: Costa Rica.
The questions about the Central American vacation paradise came from the media after Pallister's noon-hour speech. By Friday evening, news websites throughout Canada were reporting Pallister's defence of his frequent getaways to his Costa Rican properties, with scant media attention given to Pallister's promotion of Manitoba economic opportunities.
Pallister has in the past told media he plans to spend up to eight weeks a year in Costa Rica. His most recent stay was over the Christmas and New Year’s holidays with his wife and children.
He defended the time away by saying it doesn’t affect his ability to do his job.
"I don’t mean to sound like I’m petulant about the realities of public life, but I do work a lot of nights. I do work a lot of weekends and so I don’t see my children. We don’t have the opportunities many families take for granted," Pallister said. He and his wife have two adult daughters.
"If the price of my building a stronger family and relationships with my wife and my daughters is that I get questions like this, I’m happy to take the questions."
Most Canadians enjoy a trip "once in a while," he said.
Pallister has come under fire for his travel since the election campaign last spring when media reported he had spent roughly one in five days travelling to, or in, Costa Rica since being elected party leader in 2012. He also denied being there in early 2016 when it later turned out he was.
No one should worry about it taking at least a day for him to get back to Manitoba from Central America in the event of an emergency in the province, he said on Friday.
Direct flights to Toronto, Minneapolis or Chicago are scheduled at various times of the year and he’s only been forced to overnight once on his way back to Winnipeg, he said.
"Frankly, it’s never easy," said Pallister, who added that weather-related delays can happen to anyone who flies. "(But) I’m accessible every day. No more than a phone call away and no more than a day away from Manitoba."
Pallister said he has never missed a day at the legislature to be in Costa Rica nor saddled taxpayers with any of the associated costs.
Good time management allows him to get necessary work done while he’s away, he said.
He would also be fine with members of his cabinet or the civil service telecommuting since working remotely is commonplace, he added.
Pallister also defended his preference for phone calls rather communicating via less-nuanced email.
"You shouldn’t let email take over your life."
Ultimately, he said, people should focus on the results he achieves as premier and judge him on his track record.