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'I use a variety of email accounts:' Pallister pressed on Costa Rica trips once again

WAYNE GLOWACKI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES</p><p>'We haven’t had a single leak,' Premier Brian Pallister told his estimates hearing.</p>

WAYNE GLOWACKI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES

'We haven’t had a single leak,' Premier Brian Pallister told his estimates hearing.

The Pallister government hasn’t suffered a single leak -- proof that his communications when in Costa Rica are secure, Premier Brian Pallister boasted Monday.

“We haven’t had a single leak,” Pallister told his estimates hearing.

But he would not give any specific answers to the NDP on what methods he uses to communicate from his vacation home, or with whom.

Pallister said he has multiple email accounts, but skirted specifics about what email, if any, he uses when in Costa Rica. Nor would he discuss what he talks about on the phone, if anything, and would not even confirm if he does government business by telephone from Costa Rica.

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The Pallister government hasn’t suffered a single leak — proof that his communications when in Costa Rica are secure, Premier Brian Pallister boasted Monday.

"We haven’t had a single leak," Pallister told his estimates hearing.

But he would not give any specific answers to the NDP on what methods he uses to communicate from his vacation home, or with whom.

Pallister said he has multiple email accounts, but skirted specifics about what email, if any, he uses when in Costa Rica. Nor would he discuss what he talks about on the phone, if anything, and would not even confirm if he does government business by telephone from Costa Rica.

New Democrat Andrew Swan went after Pallister on his time spent at his vacation home in Costa Rica, demanding Pallister disclose how many days he’s spent in Costa Rica since the April 19, 2016, election.

Pallister retorted that he’s previously disclosed that information and he’d answer the question again Monday if Swan had tabled an account of his own vacation days since the election.

Pallister said he learned from the lack of cabinet secrecy under the former NDP government, and from its dysfunction, of the need that all his communications are secure.

The premier said he takes confidential documents on vacation to work on them: "I guard them carefully.

"I’m always accessible," Pallister said. "I’m in regular contact with my office. Lots of contact, I like to stay in touch with our team."

The premier said he is very diligent about maintaining secure communications. He would not specifically say if he talks from Costa Rica to cabinet ministers, MLAs, or to other governments.

"I like to use a variety of means to communicate," he told Swan.

Pallister said he likes to be able to understand nuances in the conversations he’s having.

Said Swan: "Does he use email in Costa Rica, yes or no?"

Pallister, who has previously said he doesn’t like using email, said, "I’m acknowledging I use a variety of methods. I use a variety of email accounts.

"I’m trying to respect confidentiality. Cabinet confidentiality matters," the premier declared.

Pallister declined to tell Swan if he uses the telephone to talk to his staff back in Winnipeg, repeating that he uses a variety of methods.

Committee member Steven Fletcher argued that Swan was out of line: "This has no relevance to the governance of Manitoba —- it is not appropriate." Fletcher said no one asked former NDP premier Gary Doer what he did while at his cottage in northwestern Ontario.

Fletcher was overruled, but the premier still wouldn’t be specific.

The premier said Swan was being facetious about continuing to ask if he uses the phone, and told the hearing, "I choose not to dignify his question."

Pallister changed direction, taking shots at former longtime New Democrat MLA and cabinet minister Gord Mackintosh, who just published his memoirs, Stories Best Left Untold.

The premier said he hopes that Mackintosh’s book does not disclose anything that happened within cabinet, Mackintosh’s oath to maintain cabinet secrecy still applies, and that includes cabinet discussion about the attempts to oust former premier Greg Selinger, Pallister said.

nick.martin@freepress.mb.ca

Read more by Nick Martin.

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