October 18, 2017

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Manitobans have mixed feelings on premier's tropical time outs, poll suggests

John Woods / THE CANADIAN PRESS FILES</p><p>Manitobans are divided on the issue of Brian Pallister being away from the province for long periods of time.</p>

John Woods / THE CANADIAN PRESS FILES

Manitobans are divided on the issue of Brian Pallister being away from the province for long periods of time.

One in four voting-age Manitobans thinks it's "very unacceptable" for the province's premier to spend five to eight weeks of the year at his vacation home in Costa Rica.

A survey by Probe Research for the Winnipeg Free Press found that Manitobans are fairly evenly divided on whether it is appropriate for Brian Pallister to be away from the province for long periods of time.

Much of the split — although not all — was along party lines.

Fifty per cent (primarily Progressive Conservative supporters) found Pallister's absences acceptable, while 47 per cent (70 per cent among NDP supporters) said they were unacceptable. About four per cent said they didn't know or had no opinion. The figures do not add up to 100 per cent due to rounding.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 5/4/2017 (195 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

One in four voting-age Manitobans thinks it's "very unacceptable" for the province's premier to spend five to eight weeks of the year at his vacation home in Costa Rica.

A survey by Probe Research for the Winnipeg Free Press found that Manitobans are fairly evenly divided on whether it is appropriate for Brian Pallister to be away from the province for long periods of time.

Much of the split — although not all — was along party lines.

Fifty per cent (primarily Progressive Conservative supporters) found Pallister's absences acceptable, while 47 per cent (70 per cent among NDP supporters) said they were unacceptable. About four per cent said they didn't know or had no opinion. The figures do not add up to 100 per cent due to rounding.

Breaking down the numbers further, 26 per cent of those surveyed said it was "very unacceptable" for the premier to be away for so long, while 17 per cent found it "very acceptable."

At various times, Pallister has said he intended to spend as few as five weeks and as many as eight weeks at his Central American retreat. He has said it does not affect his ability to fulfil his duties as premier, and he takes work with him while he's away. He's also said he is reachable in an emergency.

The NDP has focused attention on the time the premier spends at his foreign home, making it the subject of mailouts to voters.

Probe research associate Mary Agnes Welch said the bulk of Manitobans don't appear to have strong opinions on Pallister's vacation plans.

"I think for the most part a huge chunk of Manitobans are kind of willing to give him at least the benefit of the doubt on this," she said.

She noted that NDP supporters make up the vast majority of Manitobans who are most offended.

However, Welch said that those who find Pallister's absences somewhat unacceptable could see their views harden if a crisis occurred while he was abroad.

Winnipeg political scientist Paul Thomas said he doesn't think Pallister's absences will be uppermost in the minds of most voters when they go to the polls again in 2020.

Bread-and-butter issues such as taxes, government spending and the state of the economy will dominate, he said.

But if the premier's popularity is flagging, his trips abroad may become more of an issue, Thomas said.

"If something goes badly wrong in the province and his popularity is falling, people will be looking for additional ways to blame him," he said.

The survey also asked Manitobans what they thought was an acceptable amount of time for the premier to spend in Costa Rica.

Forty per cent of respondents felt three to four weeks was appropriate, while 29 per cent said their preference was one to two weeks. Another 15 per cent indicated five to six weeks.

Meanwhile, younger adults were more supportive of the idea of the premier spending five to eight weeks out of the country than older folks.

Fifty-six per cent of those age 18-34 found it somewhat or very acceptable, while 46 per cent of 35-54-year-olds and 47 per cent of those 55-plus felt the same way.

Fifty-three per cent of those with a high school education or less found it somewhat or very acceptable for Pallister to be gone for a considerable time, while 54 per cent with some post-secondary education and 47 per cent with graduate degrees supported it.

Probe conducted telephone interviews with 1,000 adult Manitobans March 13-28. The results are considered accurate within plus or minus 3.1 percentage points 19 times our of 20.

 

larry.kusch@freepress.mb.ca

Read more by Larry Kusch.

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Updated on Wednesday, April 5, 2017 at 6:24 PM CDT: moves graphic to the bottom of the story

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