Alberta Deputy Premier Ron Stevens made a three-day pit stop in Hawaii on a 2003 winter trip to Australiafor government business, a CBC investigation has shown.

Stevens, alsothe province's justice minister, was the minister responsible for gaming when he travelled to Australiain January 2003to study that country's gambling system.

Stevens defended the stopover Tuesday, saying it was a short layover to break up a long flight and was taken to save money.

"I don't recall whether it was a three-day stop or not," Stevens said when questioned about the trip.

"But I do recall that we did it in that fashion because it was less expensive than flying business class.In other words, it was the most economic way of doing it."

Credit card statements obtained under Alberta'sFreedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Actshow meals and drinks for Stevens, his wife and four others during their Honolulu stay were paid for with governmentcards.