When Premier Brian Pallister spoke for the first time since the NDP released documents suggesting he virtually unplugs while in Costa Rica, he was on the defensive.
“If sending emails and phone calls was your measure of effectiveness, we should have a teenager as the premier of Manitoba,” Pallister said. “I’ve been effective in my life of managing my time and have a reputation for those who know me, the 100-thousand Manitobans who know me, would laugh at the suggestion I’m not dedicated and focused.”
Phone and email records obtained through the freedom of information laws show while Pallister spent 19 days in Costa Rica last summer, and there were no outgoing or incoming calls made between the Premier and his staff.
Phone and email records obtained through freedom of information laws show while Pallister spent 19 days in Costa Rica last summer, there were no outgoing or incoming calls made between the Premier and his staff. (File Image)
During two trips to Costa Rica over Christmas and in late January 2017, records show 9 calls were made.
“Not a day goes by that I’m not available. Accessible,” Pallister said.
“Not a day goes by when I’m not focused on making Manitoba a better place for the people who live here.”
Email records have also showed staff sent the premier a legal opinion and a draft of the budget speech before budget day to Esther Pallister, the premier’s wife, instead of to his own government email.
When asked why Pallister had been using his wife’s cell phone and email to conduct business instead of his own, the premier explained the two had been using her phone to stay in contact with and he initially asked a clerk if her cell phone would be less secure than his government phone, and he was told no. The premier said his wife Esther has acted as his advisor and would screen his messages when he’s with his family.
“For 25 years my wife and I have worked in partnership with one another. We’ve never been associated with a leak.” Pallister said.
“There was nothing given to us as a rule of practice by the previous administration that said you shouldn’t use personal devices for business purposes or business devices for personal purposes. And we are taking action to change those rules.”
A new policy brought in last month will require government employees to only conduct business on government phones and email. On Wednesday, the premier vowed to follow the new policy.