U.S. President Donald Trump tried to dress down fellow NATO members for not spending enough on their armed forces in a speech at the NATO summit on Thursday.
Steny Hoyer of Maryland, the second-ranking Democrat in the House of Representatives, condemned the President’s comments:
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau responded by defending Canada’s record in the organization, while asserting that he will not be increasing Canada’s presence in Iraq or sending troops back to Afghanistan:
“We have no troops in Afghanistan at this time, but we are happy to be supportive in other ways.”
President Trump claims that “23 of 28 members are not paying what they should be paying and what they are supposed to be paying for their defence.” In response, the PM maintained that Canada is actively engaged in the fight against terrorism and is supporting NATO in other ways, including through intelligence-gathering by the Communications Security Establishment.
Rideau Institute President Peggy Mason noted that:
“For Canada to do Trump’s bidding and meet the NATO “aspirational target” of 2% GDP, it would have to double defence spending from $18.7 billion to just over $40 billion. This is an enormous sum, and many Canadians believe that this money would be better spent on various social, environmental, peacebuilding, and humanitarian programs.”
With the long-awaited defence policy review due to be released on June 7th, we will soon find out whether Canada will continue to stand strong in the face of external pressures to increase our national defence budget. Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan’s assertion that “The defence policy was done by and for Canadians” will be put to the test…
Photo credit: NATO