Spending on NATO: Canada’s approach to its commitment

Dépenses consacrées à l’OTAN: le Canada s’approche de son engagement

Two years ago, the government of Canada announced that it expected to achieve a proportion of 1.4 % in time for 2024-2025. However, the minister of national Defence, Harjit Sajjan, said this week that the ratio would eventually reach to 1.48 % of GDP, without providing further explanation.

13 December 2019 20: 30

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Spending on NATO: Canada’s approach to its commitment

Lee Berthiaume

The Canadian Press

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OTTAWA — The federal government predicts that its spending on national defense will come a little more of her financial commitment of the Organization of the North Atlantic treaty (NATO), but not because Ottawa has the intention to inject more money in the army.

In 2014, all the member countries of NATO have agreed to try to spend 2 % of their gross domestic product (GDP) to defense by 2024, while the military alliance was looking to share the burden of protection against new threats, such as Russia and China.

Two years ago, the government of Canada announced that it expected to achieve a proportion of 1.4 % in time for 2024-2025. However, the minister of national Defence, Harjit Sajjan, said this week that the ratio would eventually reach to 1.48 % of GDP, without providing further explanation.

Such an increase would represent an additional expenditure of some two billion dollars per year, but the ministry has confirmed to The canadian Press that no additional investment was planned in its budget.

The spokesman of the ministry of national Defence, Daniel Le Bouthiller, describes rather the rise in the ratio by a slowdown of the economic growth that is more important than expected as well as greater spending on related activities such as those of the canadian coast Guard, and benefits to veterans.

“About two-thirds of the increase in the ratio of 1.40 to 1.48 % due to an increase of forecast (in another department) and one-third would be due to the fluctuation of the forecasts on the GDP”, said by email that Mr. Bouthillier.

The government has included these expenses in the calculation of the budget from 2017 to respond to the complaints of the United States and other NATO allies, who accuse Canada of not investing enough in its armed Forces.

At the recent NATO summit that took place in London, the president of the United States, Donald Trump, has again expressed its disappointment on the percentage of canadian GDP spent on the military. During his meeting with the prime minister Justin Trudeau, he said, ” Canada is slightly offender on this subject.

Canada currently spends approximately 1.31% of the value of its GDP on its defense and has no plan to achieve the ratio of 2 %.

“It does not pay 2 % and it is expected to pay 2 %, has denounced the new Donald Trump during a meeting with German chancellor Angela Merkel on December 4th. It is the Canada. They have the money and they should pay 2 %.”

The liberal government refuses to say whether he believes in this target of 2 % and prefer to repeat that Canada has to contribute soldiers and equipment to NATO missions in Latvia, in Iraq and elsewhere — it is a participation in the alliance military Ottawa deems most significant.

Pressure from Trump

The target expenditure is an imperfect way of measuring the contribution of each member State, supports the expert of NATO and military affairs of the Queen’s University in Kingston, Stefanie von Hlatky.

She adds, however, that the allied countries are under pressure from Donald Trump to prove that they are more in military spending. A pressure doubly strong for Justin Trudeau since his meeting with the president in London.

The spokesperson of the opposition in matters of national Defence, the conservative James Bezan, accusing the liberal government of playing with the numbers trying for a better look Canada, without having to invest in the armed Forces.

“It is a sad statement for our military heroes to see that Justin Trudeau can only improve the ratio of spending in defense that by making a recession and by involving other departments in sleight-of-hand the budget to inflate the numbers”, he denounced.

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