SUPPORT US

In The Media

Canadian defence spending among lowest in NATO: report

by Lee Berthiaume (feat. David Perry)

CTV News
March 13, 2017

OTTAWA -- The Liberal government sought to deflect criticism about Canada's overall defence spending Monday by pointing to new NATO figures showing a mysterious boost in investments for military equipment last year.

The comments came as NATO's top official threw down the gauntlet by calling on all members to spend more on their militaries in the face of rising tensions around the world.

Speaking in Brussels at the release of his annual state-of-the-alliance report, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said it is incumbent on all members to spend two per cent of GDP on defence.

That is the target all NATO members, including Canada, agreed to work towards in 2014.

"All our efforts must be underpinned by adequate resources and fair burden-sharing," Stoltenberg said.

"It is realistic that all allies should reach this goal. All allies have agreed to do it at the highest level. It can be done."

Stoltenberg's report said Canada saw a small bump in defence spending in 2016, which pushed the percentage of GDP spent on defence to an estimated 1.02 per cent, up from 0.98 per cent.

That would move Canada up to 20th from 23rd in terms of spending among NATO's 28 allies, but would leave it in the bottom half of the alliance's members.

The figures are estimates at this point because the Canadian government's fiscal year ends on March 31, which means there could be some changes in the final three months.

In response, Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan's office pointed out that the NATO report found Canadian spending on military equipment had actually increased substantially over the previous year.

All NATO members agreed to invest 20 per cent of their defence budgets on equipment to ensure alliance members continue to field modern militaries with state-of-the-art capabilities.

Stoltenberg's report estimated Canadian spending on military equipment jumped from about 13 per cent in 2015 to 18 per cent last year, which would represent the highest ratio in 20 years.

"When it comes to investing in the Canadian Armed Forces, Canada's priority is to ensure that our women and men in uniform have the training and equipment they need in order to do important work on behalf of Canadians," Sajjan's spokeswoman, Jordan Owens, said in an email.

"We are focused on ensuring that our partners and allies, as well as Canadians and people around the world, see the tangible benefits of our investments in defence and security."

But defence officials, who are currently reviewing the way Canada calculates defence spending compared to other NATO allies, were hard pressed to explain the sudden jump in equipment spending.

Defence analyst David Perry of the Canadian Global Affairs Institute was mystified by the reported increase, particularly since the Liberals delayed $3.7 billion in planned capital spending in the budget.

Perry said there was a valid argument for using investments in new equipment as another way to measure Canada's NATO commitment, in addition to overall spending.

Canada has consistently under-invested in equipment, he said, which is why the country is currently dealing with aging fleets of fighter jets, helicopters and naval ships.

"If we actually get an increase like that, that's pretty consequential," he said.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau appeared to all but dismiss the two per cent target during a visit to Germany last month, saying: "There are many ways of evaluating one's contribution to NATO."

The government has reiterated that message a number of times, emphasizing Canada's military contributions to Latvia, Ukraine and Iraq in lieu of large spending increases.

While Liberal insiders say Canada's message has resonated in Washington, where the Trump administration has pushed for more spending from its NATO partners, Stoltenberg was adamant that all allies meet the two per cent target.

At one point during Monday's news conference, he listed the many ways that Spain has contributed to NATO operations and security, which includes contributing troops to a Canadian-led battle group in Latvia.

"Having said that, of course, Spain -- as many other allies -- invests too little in defence," Stoltenberg said.

"And that's exactly why we decided in 2014 to stop the cuts, gradually increase, and move towards spending two per cent of GDP on defence. And I expect that Spain will deliver on that."

A former prime minister of Norway, Stoltenberg acknowledged the difficult choices politicians must make when it comes to spending limited taxpayer dollars.

He said politicians prefer to spend on education, health and infrastructure and many countries cut defence spending as tensions eased in the wake of the Cold War.

"But my message is that if we are decreasing defence spending in times with reduced tensions, we have to be able to increase defence spending when tensions are going up and now tensions have gone up."

Canada spends about $20 billion a year on defence and would need to double that to reach the NATO target.

Only five NATO members currently spend two per cent of GDP on defence, though several have committed to reaching the target in the next few years.


Be the first to comment

Please check your e-mail for a link to activate your account.
SUBSCRIBE TO OUR NEWSLETTERS
 
UPCOMING EVENTS


No events are scheduled at this time.


SEARCH
EXPERTS IN THE MEDIA

Global Times: BRICS summit displays the potential of a new future

by Editorial Staff (feat. Swaran Singh), WSFA 12, June 24, 2022

Oil's Dive Won't Bring Any Immediate Relief on Inflation

by Alex Longley, Elizabeth low, and Barbara Powell (feat. Amrita Sen), BNNBloomberg, June 24, 2022

China To Tout Its Governance Model At BRICS Summit

by Liam Gibson (feat. Stephen Nagy), The Asean Post, June 23, 2022

Soutien aux victimes d’inconduites sexuelles dans l’armée

by Rude Dejardins (feat. Charlotte Duval-Lantoine), ICI Radio Canada, June 23, 2022

Defence: $4.9 billion for radars against Russian bombs

by Editorial Staff (feat. Rob Huebert), Archynews, June 23, 2022

The Hans Island “Peace” Agreement between Canada, Denmark, and Greenland

by Elin Hofverberg (feat. Natalie Loukavecha), Library of Congress, June 22, 2022

What the future holds for western Canadian oil producers

by Gabriel Friedman (feat. Kevin Birn), Beaumont News, June 22, 2022

At BRICS summit, China sets stage to tout its governance model

by Liam Gibson (feat. Stephen Nagy), Aljazeera, June 22, 2022

Crude oil price: there are no changes to the fundamentals

by Faith Maina (feat. Amrita Sen), Invezz, June 22, 2022

Few details as Liberals promise billions to upgrade North American defences

by Lee Berthiaume (feat. Andrea Charron), National Newswatch, June 20, 2022

Defence Minister Anita Anand to make announcement on continental defence

by Steven Chase (feat. Rob Huebert), The Globe and Mail, June 19, 2022

Table pancanadienne des politiques

by Alain Gravel (feat. Jean-Christophe Boucher), ICI Radio Canada, June 18, 2022

Russia Ukraine conflict

by Gloria Macarenko (feat. Colin Robertson), CBC Radio One, June 17, 2022

New privacy Bill to introduce rules for personal data, AI use

by Shaye Ganam (feat. Tom Keenan), 680 CHED, June 17, 2022


LATEST TWEETS

HEAD OFFICE
Canadian Global Affairs Institute
Suite 1800, 150–9th Avenue SW
Calgary, Alberta, Canada T2P 3H9

 

OTTAWA OFFICE
Canadian Global Affairs Institute
8 York Street, 2nd Floor
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada K1N 5S6

 

Phone: (613) 288-2529
Email: [email protected]
Web: cgai.ca

 

Making sense of our complex world.
Déchiffrer la complexité de notre monde.

 

© 2002-2022 Canadian Global Affairs Institute
Charitable Registration No. 87982 7913 RR0001

 


Sign in with Facebook | Sign in with Twitter | Sign in with Email