Like The Hub?
Join our community.
Join

‘Shameful’: Five Tweets on how Canada’s defence spending has been received at the 2024 NATO Summit

News

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau arrives Monday, July 8, 2024, at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., to attend the NATO summit in Washington. Mark Schiefelbein/AP Photo.

The 2024 NATO Summit kicked off in Washington, D.C this week.

The intergovernmental military alliance of 32 member states—30 European and two North American—is celebrating its 75th anniversary in the very city where their founding treaty was signed in 1949. Canada counts itself as one of the founding member states.

In 2014, NATO heads of state and government agreed to allocate a minimum of 2 percent of their respective countries’ GDP to defence spending, to guarantee the alliance’s military preparedness. Canada has yet to meet the agreed-upon requirement and is currently contributing 1.38 percent.

Canadians’ low defence spending has been criticized by politicians and commentators worldwide, who claim Canada is a “free-rider” in the NATO alliance.

Here are five Tweets on how Canada was received at the 2024 NATO Summit.

Leaders from the 32 NATO member states gathered in Washington’s Mellon Auditorium earlier this week.

NATO secretary general Jens Stoltenberg gave a speech where he said that NATO is “not only the most successful and strongest, but also the longest-lasting alliance in history.”

Canada made international news again this week in Politico with an article that focused on how allied governments have become increasingly fed up with Canada. Canada, it says, has “failed to hit domestic military spending goals, has fallen short on benchmarks to fund new equipment, and has no plans to get there.” Secretary Stoltenberg said on CTV’s Question Period that he welcomes the increase in Canada’s spending over the last few years but expects more.

In the Politico article, Philippe Lagassé, a professor at Carleton University, said that if Canada was “forced to choose between defence spending, social programs or reducing taxes, defence would always come last. So there’s no political gain to meeting the pledge.” However, with growing international pressure, there may be real consequences if Canada continues to lag behind.

Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre has also not been clear about whether he would definitely hit the 2 percent of GDP goal, though he has said that his government would “work towards” it.

American politicians have been some of the most vocal critics of Canada’s defence spending. Republican minority leader of the U.S. Senate Mitch McConnell wrote on his X page that it’s time for Canada to “invest seriously in the hard power required to help preserve prosperity and security.”

This came after a bipartisan group of 23 U.S. Senators sent a letter to Trudeau demanding he meet the 2 percent of GDP defence spending benchmark. The letter included a passage that read, “Canada will fail to meet its obligations to the Alliance, to the detriment of all NATO allies and the free world, without immediate and meaningful action to increase defence spending.”

U.S. Republican House Speaker of the House of the U.S. House of Representatives Mike Johnson called it “shameful” that Canada has yet to hit the 2 percent goal nor provided a realistic plan to do so. “Talk about riding America’s coattails.”

Surprisingly, the night before the summit commenced, Parliamentary Budget Officer Yves Giroux released a report stating that the Department of National Defence actually overestimated its defence spending of 1.76 percent by 2030. His office instead predicted Canada will only spend 1.42 percent of their GDP on defence by 2030.

Despite not having publicly put forward a plan to increase spending, Defence Minister Bill Blair and Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly, both of whom joined Trudeau at the summit, have said in the past that Canada plans to purchase several new submarines, which would push Canada over the 2 percent mark.

After several calls from NATO member officials to propose a plan to increase defence spending, Blair said at the Foreign Policy Security Forum, “I think we have a very aggressive plan to move forward. I’m very confident that it’s going to bring us to that threshold.”