Premier Brian Pallister was the only member of cabinet to bill Manitoba taxpayers for out-of-province travel in the most recent three-month reporting period.
A new posting on the government's website shows Pallister racked up $5,770 in expenses during two trips to Ottawa, one in July and the other in September.
Questions have surrounded both trips since they involved a combination of business and personal time.
The premier's expense filings reflect that. While he's listed as being away from Manitoba for eight nights in September (Sept. 15-23), he billed the province for just $752 for "accommodation, meals and phone calls."
Similarly, while he was in Ottawa July 1-7, he billed the province just $470 for hotels and meals.
His airfare in July cost $910; in September, the charge was $1,560. Under the category of "other transportation," Pallister rang up costs of $774 on his July trip and $1,301 on his September trip.
Following his July visit to the nation's capital, Pallister said he would not bill taxpayers for a large chunk of the trip. While the premier left for Ottawa on Canada Day, he did not participate in any business meetings until July 6-7, during which he packed six meetings with business groups and think tanks over the course of a day and a half.
Following his September trip, he told reporters that he "had meetings for five working days" that were "productive and positive and important."
On that trip, he appeared in a joint news conference with three other premiers. He also met with the prime minister and two federal cabinet ministers as well as representatives from several business organizations and think tanks. Some meetings, including his session with Justin Trudeau, wound up being held via teleconference due to the COVID-19 scare.
NDP Leader Wab Kinew said the $1,300 bill for "other transportation" in September raises eyebrows, as it costs only $40 to take a cab from downtown Ottawa to the airport.
"It certainly raises questions as to what that $1,300 was spent on (when) a lot of meetings took place by Zoom," he said.
A Pallister spokeswoman, citing Finance Department criteria, said "other transportation" "could include car rentals, travel agent fees, taxi cabs, essentially any transportation that is not airfare."
She said in this case, "other transportation" would include "transportation to and from the airport and to meetings that took place off-site the hotel."
Meanwhile, Kinew said Pallister should also be more forthcoming about the purpose of his trips.
"The question the premier should answer is, was this trip really organized out of necessary government business or was this just tacking on government business to a personal trip?"
Larry Kusch didn’t know what he wanted to do with his life until he attended a high school newspaper editor’s workshop in Regina in the summer of 1969 and listened to a university student speak glowingly about the journalism program at Carleton University in Ottawa.