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Trudeau defends military spending record, points to Eastern Europe mission

Trudeau dodges question about whether he’d commit to NATO’s target of two per cent of each country’s GDP when he travels to Poland this week


 
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau makes an infrastructure announcement at a municipal bus depotTuesday, July 5, 2016 in Montreal.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau makes an infrastructure announcement at a municipal bus depotTuesday, July 5, 2016 in Montreal.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau defended Canada’s record on military spending Tuesday by pointing out that the country has consistently done more than many allies in other ways — most recently in Eastern Europe.

NATO reported this week that Canadian defence spending hit record lows last year, falling to 0.98 per cent of gross domestic product. That is less than half the two per cent target that all NATO members, including Canada, agreed to in 2014.

Asked during a press conference in Montreal on Tuesday whether he would commit to the two per cent target when he travels to Poland later this week, Trudeau instead referenced the Liberal government’s decision to have Canada lead a 1,000-strong NATO force in Eastern Europe.

“We have always stepped up well above many other NATO partners to engage, and that’s actually highlighted by our engagement around Operation Reassurance,” Trudeau said.

“We continue to be a valued and valuable partner in NATO,” he added, “and I look forward to productive discussions in Warsaw with our NATO partners about how Canada can continue to contribute to peace and security in the world.”

Trudeau will travel to the Polish capital later this week for meetings with the 27 other NATO leaders. Allied defence spending is expected to be one of the major topics of discussion, alongside the threat posed by Russia and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

All NATO countries, including Canada, agreed in 2014 to stop cutting military budgets and work towards spending two per cent of GDP on defence. The goal was intended to ensure all alliance members were doing their fair share, which includes investing enough to field a modern military.

The target has taken on added importance thanks to Russia’s own military buildup, as well as criticisms in the U.S. from senators and Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump about some members not pulling their weight.

Obama was also seen to have gently rebuked Canada on the issue in his address to Parliament last week, saying: “As your ally and as your friend, let me say that we’ll be more secure when every NATO member, including Canada, contributes its full share to our common security.”

The alliance does estimate that Canadian defence spending will increase slightly this year, to 0.99 per cent of GDP. However, that will still leave Canada 23rd out of 28 NATO members.


 
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Trudeau defends military spending record, points to Eastern Europe mission

  1. The US and it’s allies account for 80% of the world’s defence spending but for some militarists that’s not enough. Cue the 2% of GNP goal. Guaranteed increases every year. It doesn’t matter if the money is wasted. Defence ministries shouldn’t worry about cutting bureaucracy and getting good value. Negotiating a better price for your next warships or fighters will just result in your not spending enough. The threat has been reduced? Irrelevant because you have to spend 2% of your GNP regardless of the actual security situation.

  2. “The goal was intended to ensure all alliance members were doing their fair share.”

    Nonsense. NATO is a one way alliance. Canada promises to protect the Europeans. Not the other way round. Anything we contribute to their defence is more than our fair share. Much of what counts as “defence” spending in the US and UK is actually for expeditions to maintain the American empire. The other states which spend 2% have ramshackle militaries that we have to go train and protect.

    The 2% goal was set as a way to keep the NATO bureaucracy humming. It has nothing to do with security or fairness.

  3. Having stirred its Canadian tail again, the American dog woofs off to look for other spots to ‘pee’.

    Canada should have thought long and hard about NATO’s – and our – involvement in Kosovo. It was no replay of a Rwandan massacre but the after-effect of the EU’s disruption of the one undeniably successful socialist state in Europe. We haven’t ‘belonged’ in NATO, since.

    ‘Humanitarian bombing’ is to politicians and military commanders what heroin is to addicts. Once they start, they need increasingly larger doses to get the same pleasurable high.

  4. Just to point how how idiotic using % of GNP as a goal; if the price of oil suddenly rose to $125 and we sorted out our pipelines so we stopped importing oil the resulting boost in GNP and reduction in imports would make it look like we were spending less on defence when actually our economic strength would rise and vulnerability to disruptions of imported oil would decrease. Would the resulting drop in % GNP spent on defence do anything to make us less secure?

    Likewise would a long recession in Estonia- which if defence spending stayed flat result in their spending higher than 2% of GNP on defence make them more secure? Of course not. Anyone relying on % of GNP to justify defence spending is a charlatan.

  5. Some pundit was saying yesterday that Canada had let its military spending lapse over the past 10 years. I guess they ‘pundited’ that wrong for, among his other accomplishments ‘Harpergovernmint’ was lauded for ‘undoing’ two decades of military neglect.

    I imagine, for the real military type, $20 billion over a 5 year combat deployment to Afghanistan wasn’t the ‘right kind’ of military spending?

    The rest – the CF35s and the arctic fleet – were Mr. Flaherty’s little joke about ‘the cheque being in the mail’ when it wasn’t – something commonsensical learned at the knee of another grate governor – Mike ‘the revolutionary’ Harris.

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