After being called out by the Opposition for skipping question period, Premier Heather Stefanson is scheduled to miss it again Tuesday.

After being called out by the Opposition for skipping question period, Premier Heather Stefanson is scheduled to miss it again Tuesday.

A news release sent Monday says the Tory premier is taking part in a news conference at 1:30 p.m. — start time for proceedings at the Manitoba Legislative Assembly, which include question period, the time set aside for the Opposition to directly hold the government to account.

It’s her fourth absence from the house since the spring session officially began March 2.

NDP house leader Nahanni Fontaine said the premier has staff to co-ordinate news conferences and those events shouldn’t conflict with her duties in the house.

"And yet she keeps choosing to have press conferences right at QP," Fontaine said Monday.

"To me, that is an indication that she doesn’t want to face the music and how she doesn’t want to be accountable to Manitobans."

In the house, the NDP MLA called out the premier April 7 for scheduling events at the same time as question period and not being there to answer for her government. She took to Twitter on Monday to call Stefanson a "part-time premier."

Stefanson’s press secretary said in an email Monday: "The premier’s office is always open and available to respond to the needs and concerns of the community." She did not address questions about Tuesday’s event conflicting with question period.

"The premier looks forward to joining elected and community leaders tomorrow for an important announcement to support Manitoba's most vulnerable citizens," Olivia Billson said in an email. "Members of the media are encouraged to join this event, ask questions and share the good news."

The premier may answer media questions at such events, but has a responsibility to elected members of the house to answer for her government, said Fontaine.

"She doesn’t think she needs to be accountable to Manitobans," the NDP house leader said. "The whole purpose of when we are in session is to pass legislation, debate legislation, but also for the government of the day to be held to account by the official Opposition, and to answer the questions that Manitobans have.

"She is deliberately thwarting those opportunities to ask really important questions and, at this point quite honestly, it’s just a sad commentary on her leadership or lack thereof."

On March 8, International Women’s Day, Manitoba’s first female premier missed question period because she didn’t feel well.

On March 23, she was absent to attend the 1:30 p.m. announcement of $7.5 million in provincial funding for the Royal Winnipeg Ballet.

On April 6, she missed question period to make a 1:30 p.m. announcement about long-term care at a personal care home that, at the last minute, was moved to the legislative building because of a COVID-19 outbreak at the residence.

On Tuesday, the premier is to attend a 1:30 p.m. news conference to announce a capital campaign, a release said.

The project is for Toba Centre for Children and Youth (previously Snowflake Place), which opened in 2013 and offers "a safe, neutral, family-friendly setting to co-ordinate forensic interviewers for children and youth who had been abused," the release said.

carol.sanders@freepress.mb.ca

Carol Sanders

Carol Sanders
Legislature reporter

After 20 years of reporting on the growing diversity of people calling Manitoba home, Carol moved to the legislature bureau in early 2020.