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Trudeau to NATO: Canada Will Never Meet Defence Spending Goal

Op LENTUS 2021-06 (BC Flooding)

Image: The Right Honourable Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada visits the Land Task Force at Clayburn village, meeting with members of Lord Strathcona’s Horse (Royal Canadians) Regiment and viewing damage from the British Columbia floods, during Operation LENTUS in Abbotsford, British Columbia. 26 November 2021. Credit: Private Daniel Pereira

It’s been revealed that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has told NATO officials privately that Canada will never meet the military alliance’s defence-spending target.

This according to a leaked secret Pentagon assessment that was contained in a Washington Post article by Toronto-based correspondent, Amanda Coletta, back in April.

The document’s anonymous authors say, “Canada’s widespread military deficiencies are harming ties with security partners and allies.” And, for Canada, the problem seems to be that these shortfalls have caused the Canadian Armed Forces to reassess whether it could conduct a major operation while continuing to simultaneously maintain its NATO battle group leadership in Latvia.

And then there’s Canada’s aid to Ukraine, both in terms materiel and personnel that is apparently draining its resources. The Post piece went on to explain how Canada and the US are partners in NORAD and that Washington is ramping up pressure on Canada to beef up its military presence in the Arctic where both Russia and China are increasingly active.

The document, part of a cache of classified material leaked via the Discord messaging app, (allegedly by a member of the Massachusetts Air National Guard), sheds light on the degree of dissatisfaction by the US about Canada not pulling its weight within the NORAD alliance.

“Widespread defense shortfalls hinder Canadian capabilities,” the document says, “while straining partner relationships and alliance contributions.”


The assessment, which the Post article says, “… bears the seal of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff”, reveals that Germany has expressed concerns about whether the Canadian Armed Forces can continue to aid Ukraine while meeting its NATO commitments. Additionally, Turkey is “disappointed” by the Canadian military’s “refusal” to support the transport of humanitarian aid after February’s deadly earthquake there. Also, according to the document, Haiti is “frustrated” by Ottawa’s reluctance to lead a multinational security mission to that nation and that is an initiative backed by the US.

For his part, Prime Minister Trudeau has said, “I continue to say and will always say that Canada is a reliable partner to NATO, a reliable partner around the world.” And he went on to tell reporters that, “…. his government would ensure that the Canadian Armed Forces has the tools it needs.”

Perhaps surprisingly, given the Trudeau government’s lackadaisical attention to Canada’s own military needs, it provided Ukraine with more than $1 billion of military aid. This includes armored vehicles, ammunition, a surface-to-air missile system (that it actually purchased from the United States), and eight German-made Leopard II tanks that it transferred to Poland for delivery to Ukraine.

And all that is on top of the training that the Canadian Armed Forces has provided to more than 36,000 Ukrainian military and security personnel since 2015. At the same time, Canada continues to lead a NATO battle group in Latvia and CDR has been on the ground there reporting on Operation REASSURANCE.

With regard to the Arctic, again as revealed in the leaked document, NORAD finds that the Canadian Armed Forces lacks “significant Arctic capabilities, and modernization plans have not materialized despite multiple public statements.”

NATO says Canada spends an estimated 1.29 percent of its GDP on defence and that is markedly short of the 2 percent guideline that members have agreed to meet.

Perhaps the embarrassment of the leaked document could serve as a wake-up call to the government to pay more than just lip service to Canada’s defence requirements but only time will tell. In the meantime, CDR will continue to keep its readers informed on future developments on this front.




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