President Donald Trump called Canada “slightly delinquent” on defense spending Tuesday at this week’s NATO summit in London.
Trump was reminded by reporters that Canada does not meet the NATO standard of spending 2% of its GDP on defense and was asked if Canada should “have a plan” to do so.
”We’ll put Canada on a payment plan, you know, we’ll put them on a payment plan. I’m sure the prime minister would love that,” Trump said turning his head towards Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. (RELATED: Trump Tells Trudeau To Up Defense Spending As NATO Summit Looms)
Trump asked Trudeau, “What are you at?” in reference to how much Canada spends on defense. While the U.S. spends 3.5% of its GDP on defense, Trudeau did not answer the question in the same terms. Canada spends about 1% of its GDP on defense but Trudeau chose to focus on supposed increased spending for the Canadian Armed Forces. The prime minister insisted “the number we talk about is a 70% increase over these past years … and for the coming years.”
Trudeau also claimed that his Liberal government had made “significant investments in our fighter jests, in our naval fleets: we are increasing significantly our defense spending from previous governments that cut it.” (RELATED: US Calls Out Canada For Failed Defense Spending Targets)
But Trudeau misrepresented the current state of Canada’s national defense and his reference to increasing defense spending by 70% is based on a 2017 defense policy review that promised to almost double military spending by 2027. So far, his government has done little to make good on that promise. In fact, his government has cut defense spending in the last two years.
Spending estimates from the 2017 federal budget revealed how the Liberals are planning a massive defense spending reduction: they have cut almost $1 billion from the defense budget in the next fiscal year and are postponing major capital acquisition projects — worth billions — for over two decades.
Trudeau has also bought used F-18 fighter aircraft from Australia instead of opting to buy new versions of the F-35 joint strike fighter as the previous Conservative government of Stephen Harper had promised to do.