August 24, 2019

Winnipeg
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Premier's social-media postcards puzzling

Editorial

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 11/2/2019 (194 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

That was thoughtful of Premier Brian Pallister to send out Twitter and Instagram messages drawing attention to the severe weather Manitobans were experiencing in the recent prolonged cold snap. It was nice to know he was thinking of us — or that he had at least hired someone to think of us on his behalf during his hard-earned winter vacation in Costa Rica.

Costa Rica was the right place for him to be. The poor man was exhausted after several successive weeks on the job, showing up at the office every day, finding efficiencies.

People often don’t appreciate how difficult it is, finding efficiencies. It can leave you emotionally drained.

Those efficiencies conceal themselves cunningly. It takes extraordinary effort to locate them and monetize them. Why, for instance, is Winnipeg Transit running one bus every hour on some routes when most of the buses run with vacant standing room in the aisles? One bus every two hours would cut the expense in half. Right there, you could cut a couple hundred dollars off the provincial grant to the city. There’s another blow struck on behalf of the much-abused taxpayer.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 11/2/2019 (194 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

That was thoughtful of Premier Brian Pallister to send out Twitter and Instagram messages drawing attention to the severe weather Manitobans were experiencing in the recent prolonged cold snap. It was nice to know he was thinking of us — or that he had at least hired someone to think of us on his behalf during his hard-earned winter vacation in Costa Rica.

Costa Rica was the right place for him to be. The poor man was exhausted after several successive weeks on the job, showing up at the office every day, finding efficiencies.

A snowy-day photo posted on Premier Brian Pallister's Instagram account. (Instagram)

A snowy-day photo posted on Premier Brian Pallister's Instagram account. (Instagram)

People often don’t appreciate how difficult it is, finding efficiencies. It can leave you emotionally drained.

Those efficiencies conceal themselves cunningly. It takes extraordinary effort to locate them and monetize them. Why, for instance, is Winnipeg Transit running one bus every hour on some routes when most of the buses run with vacant standing room in the aisles? One bus every two hours would cut the expense in half. Right there, you could cut a couple hundred dollars off the provincial grant to the city. There’s another blow struck on behalf of the much-abused taxpayer.

But if you never ride a bus, you only find these things through hours and hours of study and research. It wears you down.

The people waiting for the bus, of course, deserve a Costa Rican sojourn, too. They were the ones out in the blowing snow and gusting winds Mr. Pallister drew attention to in his social-media posts. "Stay warm, my fellow Manitobans," he wished them, in his brotherly, neighbourly way.

The advice came from an excellent source, because Mr. Pallister had found a wonderful way to stay warm. He was at his vacation home in Tamarindo, Costa Rica, where the temperature recently rose above 30 C. When he urged Manitobans to "stay warm," he knew what he was talking about!

To the average transit user at the bus stop, that could sound like an invitation. Perhaps Mr. Pallister and his family should not be surprised to find large crowds of Manitobans turning up at the gates of their tropical vacation home with their swimsuits, bottles of sunscreen and pyjamas, ready to accept a week’s hospitality. Invoices for their airfares will be turning up in his account a little later. "What brings you here?" the astonished host might ask. "We’re staying warm," the Manitobans would likely answer, "just like you said."

Premier Brian Pallister wasn't in Manitoba when this was posted to one of his social-media accounts on Feb. 6. (Twitter)

Premier Brian Pallister wasn't in Manitoba when this was posted to one of his social-media accounts on Feb. 6. (Twitter)

The danger in this is that Manitobans inclined to visit Mr. Pallister in Tamarindo might find he looks completely at home in the Costa Rican environment he has prepared for himself. They might start whispering to each other that he should spend more time there. Why should they not release him from his burdensome duties as premier and free him to pursue his Costa Rican dream?

For security reasons, the premier’s office must not announce when he is going to Costa Rica and when he is coming back. Public griping about his absences doesn’t matter, but you must not let people with bad intentions know when a precious public resource such as Mr. Pallister is available as a target.

Someone on the premier’s staff, however, should find a way to get a fresh message to the boss: it’s safe for him to come home now — the cold snap is over.

Editorials are the consensus view of the Winnipeg Free Press’ editorial board.

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