World

Trudeau Won’t Commit To Defense Spending Increase

Reuters

David Krayden Ottawa Bureau Chief

While Vice President Mike Pence is in Europe encouraging NATO members contribute their fair share to the military alliance, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau emphasized Canada’s history with NATO but did not mention any increase in military spending in an address from Germany on Friday.

Though Canada recently pledged to spend 2 percent of its GDP on defense spending, it has not done so in 40 years despite warnings from President Trump that the U.S. is no longer prepared to shoulder the full spending burden. Canada currently spends 0.99 per cent of its GDP on defense.

Trump has pulled-back some of his earlier threats to drastically reduce America’s presence in NATO and is actively encouraging members of the 28-country alliance to pitch in.

“When you look at the countries that regularly step up — delivering troops, participating in missions, being there to do the heavy lifting in the alliance — Germany and Canada have always been amongst the strongest actors in NATO,” Trudeau said.

Trudeau has not indicated any increase in defense spending in the federal budget that is expected to be unveiled next month and has instead suggested that cuts are coming.

Trudeau noted that Canada has taken the lead in Latvia, heading up the battle group there while it is planning to purchase new ships for the navy and replacement of fighter jets for the air force.

Though Trudeau’s German hosts are only spending 1.2 percent of their GDP on military spending, Chancellor Angela Merkel has pledged to increase that spending and reiterated that promise on Friday — with Trudeau by her side.

Numerous U.S. presidents have attempted to squeeze more military spending out of Canada, ranging from frank assessments by George W. Bush to an appeal from Barack Obama during a speech to the Canadian Parliament when he begged to see “more of Canada” in NATO.

New Secretary of Defense James Mattis was more specific this week in Brussels when he suggested that NATO establish a timetable for member nations to hit their 2 percent GDP target.

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