Canadian Prime Minister has halted the release of a defense policy until he meets with other NATO leaders in Brussels at the alliance’s annual summit. The review is already overdue, having taken over a year to access the opinions of leading defense experts and analysts.
A senior government official is telling CBC News that the plan was to release the policy this week but that the Liberals are trying to unveil the defense policy in conjunction with a major foreign affairs announcement — conceivably about a peacekeeping mission to Mali that Trudeau has been deliberating over for six months.
Sources tell The Daily Caller that the government is feeling the pressure from President Donald Trump and will be announcing some major defense spending — though it will probably not mean doubling the defense budget to realize the goal of it comprising 2 percent of the GDP — a commitment that Canada and all NATO members made at the 2014 NATO summit.
Foreign Affairs Minister Christina Freeland is expected to deliver a major speech on or around May 25 and thereafter, Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan, still reeling from a major scandal that undermined his trustworthiness, will discuss the defence review.
The Sajjan scandal is just one wrinkle in the Liberal’s unravelling defense policy. Canada currently spends under one percent of its GDP on defense; increasing spending to two percent would mean a $40 billion military budget. Yet in the last federal budget, Trudeau quietly postponed several major capital acquisition projects — some for 25 years.
Trudeau has argued that the two percent objective is an “arbitrary” measurement that doesn’t consider the value of a country participating in NATO deployments.
Dave Perry, with the Canadian Global Affairs Institute, doesn’t believe that Trudeau is going to change course on defense spending.
“I think the Americans are going to be disappointed and our European allies will be dumbfounded,” Perry told CBC News. “Our recent budget changes have all been negative. We’ve pushed several billions of dollars of purchasing off into the future and our share of defense spending continues to decline.”
He predicts a dark day for Canada at the NATO summit.
“So, to go into the meeting empty-handed, without even the defense review; it will put our government in a very uncomfortable position,” said Perry.