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Minister Blair meets with U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III

The Honourable Bill Blair, Minister of National Defence, met with United States Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III at the Pentagon.

Minister Blair and Secretary Austin discussed Canada’s renewed vision for defence, Our North, Strong and Free, which was unveiled by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Minister Blair on April 8, 2024. Minister Blair highlighted that this defence policy update prioritizes the security of the Arctic and the North, which are becoming increasingly accessible and facing new security challenges. Minister Blair noted that the policy invests in key new capabilities for the defence of Canada and North America, and that it will invest $8.1 billion over five years and $73 billion over 20 years. Canada forecasts its defence spending to reach 1.76% of GDP in 2029-30.

Minister Blair and Secretary Austin also discussed NORAD Modernization efforts. Minister Blair provided an update on the implementation of Canada’s NORAD Modernization Plan, which was released in 2022 and is backed by an investment of approximately $38 billion. This is Canada’s largest investment in NORAD in a generation, and this funding package will enable the construction of new Arctic and Polar Over-the-Horizon Radar Systems that will provide early warning radar coverage.

The two counterparts also discussed Russia’s ongoing attacks on Ukrainian cities, towns, and critical infrastructure and resolved to continue providing Ukraine with the military assistance that it needs to defend itself. Minister Blair thanked Secretary Austin for his leadership of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group, in which Canada has participated since its establishment in 2022. Minister Blair noted that Canada has committed over $14 billion in total support to Ukraine, including $4 billion in military assistance – and continues to train Ukrainian personnel under Operation UNIFIER.

As we approach the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Summit in Washington, D.C. in July 2024, Minister Blair provided an update on Canada’s increased contributions to NATO – noting that Canada is more than doubling its military presence on Operation REASSURANCE to up to 2,200 persistently deployed troops by 2026.

As Allies scale up defence production, the integration of the Canadian and American defence industrial base is becoming increasingly crucial to our shared security. Minister Blair and Secretary Austin discussed the importance of maintaining and advancing this integration in the years to come. Minister Blair also noted Canada’s ongoing response to the crisis in Haiti. Through Operation HELIOS, Canada has assisted with training military personnel from Caribbean Community nations who are set to deploy to Haiti as part of the United Nations-authorized, Kenyan-led, Multinational Security Support (MSS) mission. Minister Blair also highlighted Canada’s investment of $80.5 million to support the deployment of MSS mission – and the two counterparts discussed how Canada can continue to support that mission.

Minister Blair and Secretary Austin also discussed how Canadian and American armed forces members are working together to promote the rules-based international order in the Indo-Pacific region – and looked forward to continued collaboration in this regard.

ADDITIONAL INFO

  • This is Minister Blair’s first official visit to Washington, D.C. as Minister of National Defence. This visit follows Minister Blair’s trip to NORAD Headquarters in Colorado Springs on February 5, 2024.
  • Canada and the U.S. are like-minded global partners with a shared commitment to bolstering multilateralism and the rules-based international order. As long-standing partners in NATO and NORAD, we cooperate closely on security and defence issues. Our two countries are also members of the G7 and G20, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and the World Trade Organization.
  • On April 8, 2024, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Defence Minister Bill Blair released Our North, Strong and Free: A Renewed Vision for Canada’s Defence. This defence policy update prioritizes Arctic and northern security and will invest $8.1 billion over five years and $73 billion over 20 years to bolster the defence of Canada. With this investment, Canada projects its defence spending-to-GDP ratio to reach 1.76% in 2029-30. This is a significant step toward meeting our commitment to reach defence expenditures of 2% of GDP.
  • Initiatives under Our North, Strong and Free also put Canada on track to exceed NATO’s target of 20% for major equipment expenditures as a proportion of defence funding in 2025-2026.
  • These investments are in addition to Canada’s NORAD Modernization Plan, announced in June 2022. This plan, backed by an investment of approximately $38 billion, is Canada’s largest investment in NORAD in a generation. NORAD is the cornerstone of Canada’s contribution to the defence of North America, and the cornerstone of our defence relationship with the U.S.

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