WINNIPEG — Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister plans to spend six to eight weeks a year at his vacation home in Costa Rica during his time in office, including this holiday season, but says he will be getting work done while there.
"When I go down there, I work," Pallister said in a year-end interview with The Canadian Press at his legislature office.
Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister speaks to media at the Manitoba Legislature in Winnipeg on May 16, 2016. (Photo: John Woods/CP)
"I work at things that I don't get interrupted at, and I do get some time with my family, which is great because I don't get much time with my family when I'm here."
Pallister's Costa Rica travels came under fire in the election campaign in the spring, when a CBC investigation revealed Pallister had spent roughly one in five days travelling to or in Costa Rica since being elected Progressive Conservative leader in 2012.
A few weeks earlier, Pallister had told the Winnipeg Free Press that he had not been in Costa Rica in early 2016 when in fact he had been.
Trying to get ahead of story?
The premier and his staff appear to have now adopted a more upfront communications plan on his southern trips, said Royce Koop, a political studies professor at the University of Manitoba.
"It does seem to be the case that they've adopted the strategy of getting ahead of this," Koop said. "They're being open with the amount of time he's going to be away instead of allowing the opposition to figure it out and break it as a story."
Pallister said one reason he spent so much time in Costa Rica initially was because he was developing his property. The Costa Rica Star newspaper reported earlier this year that Pallister owns three properties that cover a combined five hectares.
'I typically work a 60-hour week'
He also said the 10 months a year he spends in Manitoba is more than a year's worth of work.
"I typically work a 60-hour week, so in the 10 months that I am here, I'm typically doing 15 months of work, and I'm proud of that.
"Pallister men, on their headstones, they just want 'he was a good worker.'"