Prime Minister Justin Trudeau defends Canadian military spending as a new report released ahead of a major NATO meeting this week shows Canada is headed in the wrong direction.
Members of the NATO military alliance agreed in 2014 to increase their defense spending to 2 percent of their national gross domestic product, and the goal is expected to be in the spotlight when the leaders meet in Spain from Wednesday. .
But the new report released by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg estimates that Canadian defense spending will decline as a percentage of GDP to 1.27 percent this year, down from 1.32 percent last year and from 1.42 percent in 2020.
The report did not specify the reason for the expected decline, or whether it includes $8 billion in promised new military spending that was included in the April federal budget but whose purpose has not been clearly defined.
Asked about the report during a news conference at the end of this year’s G7 meeting in Germany, as he prepared to travel to Madrid for the NATO leaders’ summit, Trudeau said the government has announced several investments. new “significant”
These include $4.9 billion to upgrade NORAD, the US-Canadian shared system used to detect incoming air and sea threats to North America, as well as plans to buy new fighter jets to replace aging CF-18s from Canada.
The prime minister also said that Canada has repeatedly demonstrated its commitment to the NATO alliance by deploying troops and equipment on a variety of missions, including leading a multinational NATO force in Latvia.
“Canada is always part of NATO missions and continues to make significant progress,” Trudeau said.
“We know how important it is to step up and we will continue to do so to make sure the world knows it can count on Canada to be part of advancing the cause of democracy, the rule of law and opportunity for all.” he added she.
However, Trudeau also sidestepped a question about whether Canada is prepared to send more troops to Latvia as NATO seeks to double the size of its forces across the Baltic in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The Latvian ambassador to Canada told The Canadian Press earlier this week that Canada is talking with allies about reinforcing the Canadian-led battle group in his country.
The battle group in Latvia is one of four established by NATO in 2017, with Germany leading another similar unit in Lithuania and Britain and the United States responsible for forces in Estonia and Poland, respectively.
However, while Germany and Britain have said in recent weeks that they are ready to lead larger combat units in Lithuania and Estonia, Canada has so far remained silent about its plans in Latvia.
Trudeau also did not say whether Canada is prepared to put more troops on high readiness, as Stoltenberg announced Monday that the alliance plans to increase the number of troops on standby from 40,000 to 300,000.
“We have been working closely with NATO partners, with the NATO Secretary General, and especially with the Latvians, where Canada leads the (battle group) and is committed to making sure that we continue to stand up to Russia,” he said. Trudeau.
“We, like others, are developing plans to be able to scale quickly,” he added. “And those are conversations that I look forward to having in the next few days at NATO.”
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