Premier Heather Stefanson insists she didn’t intentionally keep the media at bay when she broke with tradition and failed to invite reporters along as she toured Manitoba flood zones last week.
"It was sort of a last-minute decision that was made," Stefanson said when asked at an unrelated news conference Monday morning in Winnipeg.
Last Tuesday, the premier was on a tour of western Manitoba with members of her cabinet when the Free Press asked when she planned to tour flooded areas. The premier’s press secretary said she and Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Doyle Piwniuk decided instead to visit flood-affected communities that day.
"We felt we needed to get on the road and go visit some of these communities," Stefanson told reporters at the news conference on funding for pothole repairs.
She said they tried to get into Peguis First Nation but didn’t get far because of overland flooding, and ended up touring accessible flood zones in the Interlake. Photos were posted to the premier’s social media accounts.
When the Free Press asked Wednesday where the premier would next be visiting so it could provide coverage, the premier’s press secretary invited media to follow Stefanson on social media.
By touring flood zones without any news media present, Stefanson broke with tradition, in which Manitoba premiers invite reporters and photographers along when they visit hard-hit flood zones.
"As we could move forward and we can provide you more information, we absolutely will," Stefanson said Monday.
"It’s certainly by no means trying to keep the media out of anything," she said. "Sometimes these decisions are made very last-minute — because we feel it was the right thing to do."
After 20 years of reporting on the growing diversity of people calling Manitoba home, Carol moved to the legislature bureau in early 2020.