Canada has become outlier among NATO members: Report

Ahead of Trudeau's visit, in its 2024 budget, the Canadian government announced $8.1 billion over five years and $73 billion over 20 years in new defence spending.
Last Updated : 09 July 2024, 04:38 IST

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Washington: Canada has become an outlier among the 32-member NATO alliance, a major American media outlet said on Monday, on the eve of the crucial NATO summit in this city being hosted by US President Joe Biden.

"Over the past several years, Ottawa has become an outlier among the 32-member alliance. It has failed to hit domestic military spending goals, has fallen short on benchmarks to fund new equipment and has no plans to get there," Politico said.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau arrived in Washington, DC to participate in this year's NATO summit that formally begins on Tuesday. According to his office, the summit will be an opportunity for the prime minister to reaffirm Canada's commitment to Euro-Atlantic security and stability, particularly in the face of ongoing Russian aggression and destabilisation.

During his meetings here, Trudeau will highlight Canada's contributions to the NATO's collective defence efforts across Europe, including through Operation REASSURANCE, Canada's largest active overseas military deployment, his office said.

Politico said one of the 12 founding members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), Canada readily signed the 2014 pledge to spend 2 per cent of the GDP on defence, in the wake of Russian President Vladimir Putin's seizure of Crimea in Ukraine. The alliance as a whole might have been slow to get there, but this year, 23 of the 32 NATO members will hit the mark as fears grow along the alliance's eastern front over Putin's plans.

According to Politico, during the NATO summit, its members are expected to press Canada to come up with the cash while warning that things could get much worse if Donald Trump returns to the White House.

"What is happening now that everyone is spending more, the fact that the Canadians are not even trying has become obvious," Max Bergmann, a former State Department arms control official, was quoted as saying by Politico.

Politico said the Canadian case is particularly frustrating, the diplomats say, because of Ottawa's seeming lack of urgency, despite significant problems with its aging military equipment and strong economy. Its military is so underfunded that half of its equipment is considered "unavailable and unserviceable", according to a leaked internal report.

"The Canadian public does not really see the need," Philippe Lagassé, Barton chair at Canada's Carleton University, was quoted as saying.

"If forced to choose between defence spending, social programmes or reducing taxes, defence would always come last. So there is no political gain to meeting the pledge," he said.

Ahead of Trudeau's visit, in its 2024 budget, the Canadian government announced $8.1 billion over five years and $73 billion over 20 years in new defence spending. This builds on historic investments the federal government has made to date to support members of the country's armed forces, strengthen Canada's defence capabilities and respond to global challenges.

Since 2022, Canada has committed more than $19 billion in multi-faceted support to Ukraine. This includes $4 billion in military aid and equipment donations, such as Leopard 2A4 main battle tanks and an armoured recovery vehicle, armoured combat support vehicles, anti-tank weapons, and other arms and equipment.

Other assistance includes $12.4 billion in financial assistance, $352.5 million in humanitarian assistance, $442 million in development assistance and more than $210 million in security and stabilisation programming, the prime minister's office said.

At the summit, Trudeau will meet with NATO allies and international partners to strengthen Euro-Atlantic security.

Published 09 July 2024, 04:38 IST

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