NATO report | Justin Trudeau defends Canada’s military spending

(Madrid) Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is expected to face some tough questions at a major NATO summit in Madrid this week, as a new report suggests Canada is backing away from its military spending commitment.

Posted at 10:20am
Updated at 9:47 p.m

Laura Osmann
The Canadian Press

In 2014, the 30 member states of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) agreed to increase their defense spending to 2% of their national gross domestic product. This goal should also be in the foreground when the leaders of the military alliance meet in Spain from Wednesday.

On Tuesday evening, Justin Trudeau met his NATO colleagues at a ceremony hosted by King Felipe VI. hosted dinner at the Royal Palace in Madrid. However, formal exchanges between the leaders must begin on Wednesday morning.

The new report, released Monday by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, estimates that Canada’s defense spending as a percentage of GDP will fall this year. According to NATO, that spending would rise to 1.27% this year, compared to 1.32% last year and 1.42% in 2020.


PHOTO PAUL CHIASSON, THE CANADIAN PRESS

Justin Trudeau

The report does not explain this drop, nor does it account for the $8 billion in new military spending promised in the April federal budget, but the target for which was not clearly defined by the Liberal government.

Asked about the NATO report at Tuesday’s press conference concluding the G7 meeting in Germany as he prepared for his trip to Madrid, Trudeau said his government had announced several “significant” new investments.

This includes $4.9 billion to modernize the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) and plans to purchase new fighter jets to replace aging CF-18s.

Field Obligations

The Prime Minister also said that Canada has repeatedly demonstrated its commitment to the Atlantic Alliance by deploying troops and equipment in various missions, including commanding NATO’s multinational force in Latvia.

“Canada is still part of NATO missions and continues to participate in important ways,” said Mr. Trudeau. We know the importance of taking action and we will continue to do so to ensure the world knows it can count on Canada to advance the cause of democracy, the rule of law and opportunity for all. »

Trudeau, however, dodged questions about Canada’s willingness to send more troops to Latvia as NATO seeks to double the size of its forces in the Baltics in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Latvia’s ambassador to Ottawa told The Canadian Press earlier this week that Canada is in talks with allies about strengthening the Canadian military-led battle group in its country.

Battlegroup in Latvia is one of four battlegroups created by NATO in 2017. Germany, the United Kingdom, and the United States each command a Battlegroup in Lithuania, Estonia, and Poland.

Germany and Britain have said in recent weeks that they are ready to lead larger combat groups in Lithuania and Estonia, but Canada has so far not commented on its intentions in Latvia.

Mr. Trudeau also did not indicate on Tuesday whether Canada is ready to place more military personnel on “high readiness” — Secretary General Stoltenberg announced Monday that NATO plans to increase the number of personnel on “high readiness” from 40,000 300,000 to raise”.

“We have worked very closely with NATO partners, with the NATO Secretary General and particularly with Latvia, where Canada is leading the[Battle Group]and is committed to making sure we continue to stand against Russia,” Trudeau said Tuesday.

“We, like others, make plans to scale quickly,” he added. And I’m really looking forward to these talks over the next two days” in Madrid.

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