Orlando shooting: Brian Pallister didn't attend vigil because he was sick

Premier Brian Pallister says he made arrangements not to attend Monday's session of budget estimates in advance, and he didn't attend a vigil for the dozens massacred in a U.S. shooting over the weekend because he came down with a cold.

'I wasn't in Costa Rica,' premier says of absence from Winnipeg vigil for Orlando shooting victims

Brian Pallister was absent from budget estimates sessions at the Manitoba Legislature Monday and did not attend a Pride Winnipeg vigil in the evening for the victims of a mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando. (CBC)

Premier Brian Pallister says he made arrangements not to attend Monday's session of budget estimates in advance, and he didn't attend a Monday night vigil for the dozens massacred in a U.S. shooting over the weekend because he came down with a cold.

"I wasn't in Costa Rica, let's be clear," Pallister said Tuesday, eliciting laughter from reporters.

Pallister has been under fire for a noncommittal response from his staff Monday that he was simply "unavailable" for the legislative work and a vigil in the evening recognizing the victims of the Orlando, Fla., shooting massacre.

In the early hours of Sunday morning, a lone gunman entered Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, and opened fire on a crowd of people inside. He killed 49 people and wounded more than 50 others.

I was sick. I'm sick now. I'm sick of questions already.- Brian Pallister

More than 300 people attended a vigil for the victims at the Manitoba Legislature Monday.

On Tuesday, Pallister told reporters he was ill Monday with a cold, and that he had intended not to attend estimates meetings as scheduled. The illness, he says, disrupted his plans to work on other projects instead of attending the legislative functions and vigil.

Permission to be excused

On Friday, Pallister asked to be excused from the estimates process. He said he had innumerable other projects to work on.

"I had plans to work outside of estimates if I could, and I got leave to do that through negotiations with our house leaders," he said.

Pallister said he cycled parts of the Trans Canada Trail on Saturday but he got sick on Sunday.

"I'm getting old, I caught my wife's cold," he said.

Premier Brian Pallister made arrangements not to attend Monday's session of budget estimates in advance, Manitoba's New Democrats say. 1:00

Pallister said the cold kept him away from work entirely on Monday.

"I was sick. I'm sick now. I'm sick of questions already," Pallister told reporters.

The premier told reporters to check the records. He said there were at least five occasions with the previous government where the premier wasn't available for estimates.

With files from Sean Kavanagh