NATO chief commends Canada upping defence spending but stresses 2% target

The head of NATO urged Canada to meet the alliance’s defence spending target while visiting the nation’s capital Wednesday, suggesting the billions of dollars in new investments — while notable — are not enough.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Canada’s updated defence policy, which commits $8 billion over five years and projects the defence budget’s share of GDP to rise to 1.76 per cent by then, is “important” for strengthening NATO and ensuring its collective security.

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Treasury Board President Anita Anand, a former defence minister, told reporters Tuesday that getting Canada to that two per cent target requires a solid plan on how to use the money effectively. The investments that will get to 1.76 per cent have been properly allocated to specific procurements, she explained.

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“It does not make rational sense to pile money into one department, unless they can effectively utilize that money,” she said while heading into a cabinet meeting in Ottawa.

“Why would we continue to fill those books with additional money, if that money can’t get out the door?”

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Blair has mentioned the need for a new submarine fleet as one example of a future investment that could get Canada to two per cent. But the government has not yet undertaken the process to determine what kind of submarine to purchase or how many the military needs, so it was not included in the policy update.

Asked to explain to Canadians the need for meeting two per cent target, Stoltenberg said having a strong allied defence force is necessary to ensure hostile actors like Russia and China are effectively deterred.

“I understand that in Canada, you are in a position where you have the Atlantic Ocean, the Arctic in the north, the Pacific Ocean, and a good friend and ally in the United States in the south,” he said.

“But no nation is protected against threats in an age of global great power rivalry, in an age of ballistic missiles, strategic submarines, weaponization of space, of cyber threats, of terrorist threats. So this is also a challenge for Canada, and the best way to preserve peace is to stand together in NATO and invest as we have agreed.”


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: World