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Brian Pallister says he will spend about five weeks at his vacation home in Costa Rica this year, backpedalling on previous comments he would spend up to two months in the Central American country.

That five-week tally includes the 11 days the premier planned to spend at his Costa Rican home this month, meaning the premier could be off to the sunny locale in a matter of days.

"We had always planned to take three trips this year, one in January… not for more than 11 days, I expect. And once in the summer and once around Christmas with our daughters. That was the game plan," he said Wednesday after a press conference announcing a new $400-million pea plant in Portage la Prairie.

"We did five weeks last year in total. And again, I would emphasise I am always available, the data I manage and handle is always meticulously guarded for security reasons and not a penny of taxpayer dollars are involved — and I work when I am there."

The premier's admission of his plans for several extended trips to Costa Rica have garnered national attention, however Pallister said his 40-member caucus supports his need to spend time away with his family.

BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS</p><p>Premier Brian Pallister: 'If I leave politics with my family intact, I’ll probably be doing better than three-quarters of the members of parliament and MLAs across the country'</p>

BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Premier Brian Pallister: 'If I leave politics with my family intact, I’ll probably be doing better than three-quarters of the members of parliament and MLAs across the country'

"Caucus has actually been nothing but encouraging, we just met over the past three days with approximately 1,500 Manitobans. I had one fella tell me I had a nice tan. The rest of them said, 'Do what is right for your family. We know how hard you work, so just keep working hard,'" he said.

He said he is likely guilty of starting the furor because he told the Free Press and the Canadian Press in year-end interviews last month that he would be in Costa Rica for six to eights weeks.

Pallister later admitted after being pressed by the Free Press that he does not send or receive emails and only has an email account set up for emergency purposes, which he has never used.

He maintains his trips are about family time — he has two adult daughters — and stressed being premier is not a responsibility he takes lightly.

"If I leave politics with my family intact, I’ll probably be doing better than three-quarters of the members of parliament and MLAs across the country," he said.

"Measure me on my results, that is all I am asking... I have never lost sight of what my job means and I am proud to do this job. Anyone who knows me knows when I take on a job, I focus on it."

kristin.annable@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @kristinannable