Manitoba premier defends plan to work from Costa Rica for 6-8 weeks every year

Photo from The Canadian Press
Photo from The Canadian Press

Brian Pallister, the Manitoba premier, has revealed he will spend six to eight weeks a year at his vacation home in Costa Rica. But he’ll be working remotely, of course.

The recently-elected premier, who won a landslide back in April, is currently the No. 2 most popular premier in the country (Saskatchewan’s Brad Wall took top spot).

“When I go down there, I work,” Pallister told The Canadian Press.

“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,” he said.

This is marks yet another time Costa Rica has figured large in headlines concerning the premier. Back in the spring a CBC investigation uncovered that he has spent about one in five days travelling to and from the Central American country since becoming the PC leader in 2012.

The PC leader owns shares in two Costa Rican companies, and he has admitted in the past he spends a lot of time in that country to develop property he owns.

But by Pallister’s own calculations, he works so hard when he’s in the province he’s responsible for running that any extra work he gets done at his vacation home in another continent is sort of a bonus.

“I typically work 60-hour weeks,” Pallister told the Canadian Press about the time he spends in Manitoba. “So in the 10 months that I am here, I’m typically doing 15 months of work, and I’m proud of that.”

Back in 2014, Pallister was in the Latin American country during extreme flooding when his home province declared a state of emergency and brought in the military. However, during that time, he told media he wasn’t going to visit affected communities because he didn’t want to be politicizing the natural disaster.

“Manitobans are not asking for photo ops,” Pallister said. Eventually, it was revealed he had been in Costa Rica during that period.

So far, the most recent news concerning Costa Rica is causing mixed reaction on social media.

Ray Yuen on Facebook says Pallister should choose whether he wants to be Premier or a property owner:

“Show me another government employee who gets eight weeks off in a row. I don’t care that he claims to be working. How about setting up an office for me on the Caribbean for eight weeks?! I’ll be happy to be around to answer a few emails while sipping on margaritas.”

Brenda Bage is more conciliatory:

“So long as he’s gone during normal government breaks, he is reachable by his staff (phone, email, etc) and he returns immediately incase of emergency – I really don’t see the problem. He is entitled to time off just like any other person/politician – where he chooses to spend that time is ultimately up to him.”

Joanne Guthrie Bjornson called him an “absentee Premier”

“This doesn’t include time spent at his summer cottage either does it? Oh well, you suckers who handed handed him a majority, he doesn’t care what you think. Suckers got suckered…”

Others remained very supportive of the new premier:

Ruth Windsor: “Let’s see you do his job. Your whining if you work more than 40 hrs a week or a weekend. You need a day off. I wouldn’t want his job.”

Dina Metcalfe Viallet: “Who says it’s a vacation? I can guarantee he’ll still be working down there. With laptops and smartphones, the work never goes away. Ask anyone self employed or in sales if they ever get a true holiday.”

And Josh Carl just wants Pallister to work more before he takes his eight weeks of vacation:

“Takes 20 years in government to earn that much time. Politicians are elected so each election they start the job over again, there is no carry over.”

Ian Down — sarcastically — thought the premier must have had some union luck on his side:

“Just started and already get two months holidays. Must have a good union!”

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