WINNIPEG —; The Manitoba Progressive Conservative leader has confirmed he spent 240 days travelling or in Costa Rica since he was elected in 2012.
But Brian Pallister says if elected he will spend more time in Manitoba.
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Pallister has a vacation home in the Central American country and has spent one-fifth of his time as Opposition leader either travelling to or in Costa Rica.
“I don’t dispute the numbers, but again I would make the point, taxpayers were not responsible for that,” said Pallister. “I would also not, I haven’t missed a house day by being anywhere but here.”
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However, the leader of the opposition was also in Costa Rica during the summer floods of 2014 when the province declared a state of emergency and brought in the military to shore up dikes.
At the time, he said he had been attending a family wedding in Alberta, but thus week admits he was out of the country at his vacation home.
“It lies in an honest desire to protect the privacy of my wife and my daughters.”
Pallister said he had personally visited the area on two occasions prior to flood and right after and had MLA’s who were there and he was in contact with throughout that time.
NDP leader Greg Selinger said the decision to not come home, while the people in the constituency Pallister used to represent were struggling, speaks volumes.
“He has covered up where he was and that is a serious issue,” said Selinger. “It indicates to me that he knew there was something wrong with what he was doing and wasn’t prepared to disclose it. This is an issue of his judgement.”
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Selinger declined to comment on whether he believed 240 days out of the country is acceptable for an elected official but raised concerns over Pallister not being forthcoming with where he was during the province’s time of need.
“Family privacy of course, having some holidays of course, but misleading Manitobans and covering up where you were at the time of emergency and continuing to do that raises serious issues of his leadership,” he said.
Bokhari took issue not only with the amount of time the official leader of the opposition spends outside of Manitoba, but with not disclosing his whereabouts.
“240 days… no I don’t think that is acceptable at all,” said Liberal leader Rana Bokhari. “If you want to be away during a crisis then you have to own that as it’s happening.”
Pallister said he is a workaholic and was trying to protect his family’s privacy.