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Justin Trudeau: Senators write to Canada’s Prime Minister asking him to fulfill the commitment of 2% of GDP in defense spending

Allen McInnis/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Justin Trudeau speaks during a cabinet retreat in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, on January 23, 2024.



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A bipartisan group of 23 US senators wrote to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau urging his country to meet its commitment to spend 2% of GDP on defence, amid concerns that key members of the NATO alliance are not doing his part.

“As we approach the 2024 NATO Summit in Washington, DC, we are concerned and deeply disappointed that Canada’s most recent projection indicates that it will not meet its two per cent commitment this decade,” the senators wrote. . “In 2029, Canada’s defense spending is estimated to rise to just 1.7 per cent, five years after the agreed-upon 2024 deadline and still below the spending baseline.”

The rare letter from lawmakers to a head of state comes about two months before NATO’s next annual summit in Washington, D.C., which will mark the alliance’s 75th anniversary as Russia’s war against Ukraine continues.

At last year’s leaders’ summit, allies agreed that each member nation should spend at least 2% of its GDP on defense. Senators pointed to that agreement in advocating that Canada honor the commitment.

And senators — including Republicans Mitt Romney of Utah and Ted Cruz of Texas, as well as Democrats Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire and Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, among others — argued that if Canada doesn’t live up to its commitment, it will hurt NATO. .

“Canada will fail to meet its obligations to the Alliance, to the detriment of all NATO allies and the free world, without immediate and significant action to increase defense spending,” the senators wrote.

Canada is a founding member of the defense alliance, which now has 32 member countries. Senators highlighted the contributions Canada has made to NATO on multiple fronts, including taking a leadership role in supporting its military operations and developing standards around democracy, economic resilience and human rights.

But the senators also noted that many other nations are taking the necessary steps to meet and exceed the 2% goal.

“By the end of 2024, 18 NATO countries will meet the Alliance’s goal of ensuring NATO’s continued military readiness. “This is a historic investment in our collective security, led by NATO allies like Poland, a country that has already exceeded three percent of its GDP for defense spending,” they wrote.

Earlier this year, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said he expected Canada to “keep its promise” or detail plans to meet the spending target.

More than a dozen other NATO members (including Spain, Turkey and the Netherlands) have also so far fallen short of the alliance’s goal.

But senators decided to write to Trudeau because they believe Canada, unlike other nations, does not appear to have a plan to achieve the goal, a congressional aide explained.

While the letter does not mention former President Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee has had a real impact on ongoing efforts to get alliance members to spend more. During his presidency, Trump repeatedly pressured members to contribute more to the alliance and spend more on defense overall.

Europeans are also concerned about what Trump might do in a possible second term when it comes to NATO.

If he wins the election in November, Trump will consider pushing for a two-tier NATO, CNN previously reported. That would mean that countries that do not meet the 2% of GDP spending commitment would not be protected by NATO Article 5, which guarantees that alliance-wide resources can be used to protect any member nation if it is attacked.

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