Manitoba

Kinew berates Pallister's 5 months in Costa Rica during 1st term as Manitoba premier

Manitoba NDP Leader Wab Kinew took a swing at Progressive Conservative Leader Brian Pallister on Sunday, accusing him of spending too much time at his vacation home in Costa Rica.

'Mr. Pallister seems to have forgotten who he's working for,' says NDP Leader Wab Kinew

Outside Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister's home in Tamarindo, Costa Rica. (Jimaco Constructores)

Manitoba NDP Leader Wab Kinew took a swing at Progressive Conservative Leader Brian Pallister on Sunday, accusing him of spending too much time at his vacation home in Costa Rica.

"I am here to talk about the importance of being a premier that works for you," Kinew said at a news conference. 

It used to be that someone who ran for high office was expected to turn their life over to the position, he added, then noted the NDP obtained entry and exit records from Costa Rican officials that show Pallister made nine trips in the past three years.

The total days spent in Costa Rica total 128 (the NDP miscalculated in their press release and list the total as 129). The trips would also have required at least 18 travel days, since there are no direct flights between Winnipeg and Costa Rica, the NDP said.

Wab Kinew says Brian Pallister should have spent more time in Manitoba to help the province navigate through issues like the meth and health crises. (Justin Fraser/CBC)

That makes a total of 146 days away and does not include any other vacations taken by Pallister while premier.

"This is about serving the public and yet, what we've seen from Mr. Pallister during his first term in office is that he spent almost 150 days in Costa Rica. That's close to five months that he's spent out of the country," Kinew said.

In 2016, months after taking office, Brian Pallister said he planned to spend six to eight weeks a year in Costa Rica. He later revised that to five weeks. (Jeff Stapleton/CBC)

"There's a meth crisis going on in our streets, there's a healthcare crisis in our hospitals, there's a recession potentially looming on the horizon and yet Mr. Pallister seems to have forgotten who he's working for."

"The people of Manitoba deserve a full-time premier to help them navigate those issues." 

Kinew said that since he was elected in 2016, he has taken 2-3 weeks' vacation time each year.

In a written statement sent to CBC News, the PC party called Kinew's comments "a petty attack," and then simply added, "our Leader has a proven record of working hard for Manitobans."

The party later put out a news release accusing the NDP of fabricating details about Pallister's vacation days.

"Just like their platform, the NDP have made up numbers to paint a picture that they know simply isn't true. They are not credible and should be treated as such," the release said.

"Since becoming Premier, Brian Pallister has been forthright, stating, 'Manitobans get me 90 per cent of the time, my family gets me for the other 10 per cent.' Spending time with family for a few weeks at Christmas and a few weeks in the summer is consistent with what Brian Pallister has told Manitobans."

Pallister and his wife purchased the 3,400-square-foot hillside Costa Rican property —which includes a pool, groundskeeper's quarters and a gym —  in 2008.

In 2016, months after taking office, Pallister said he planned to spend six to eight weeks a year in Costa Rica. He later revised that to five weeks.

The publicly available documents from the Costa Rican government, shared with media by the NDP, show Pallister was in the Central American country on the following dates:

  • July 8, 2016 — July 15, 2016 (8 days)
  • Aug. 25, 2016 — Sept. 4, 2016 (11 days)
  • Dec. 17, 2016 — Jan. 3, 2017 (18 days)
  • Jan. 19, 2017 — Jan. 30, 2017 (12 days)
  • Dec. 19, 2017 — Jan. 4, 2018 (17 days)
  • Jan. 18, 2018 — Jan. 30, 2018 (13 days)
  • Aug. 16, 2018 — Aug. 28, 2018 (13 days)
  • Dec. 22, 2018 — Jan. 8, 2019 (18 days)
  • Jan. 25, 2019 — Feb. 11, 2019 (18 days)

The legislature was not sitting during any of the listed periods when Pallister was in Costa Rica.

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