US senators write letter to Trudeau calling on him to meet NATO's 2% GDP defence spending target

'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,' the letter states.

US senators write letter to Trudeau calling on him to meet NATO's 2% GDP defence spending target
The Canadian Press / Adrian Wyld
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Twenty-three US senators from across party lines have written to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau calling on him to increase Canada's defence spending.

The letter calls on Trudeau to spend 2 percent of GDP on defence, the NATO spending target that Canada agreed to in 2014.

“As we approach the 2024 NATO Summit in Washington, D.C., we are concerned and profoundly disappointed that Canada’s most recent projection indicated that it will not reach its two percent commitment this decade,” the letter states. “In 2029, Canada’s defence spending is estimated to rise to just 1.7 percent, five years after the agreed upon deadline of 2024 and still below the spending baseline.”

The letter comes just two months before the next NATO summit in Washington, DC.

18 of the 32 NATO allies are expected to meet the two percent target by the end of 2024. The letter calls on all countries not meeting that mark to have a "plan to reach this benchmark as soon as possible.”

“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," the letter states.

The letter was signed by 23 senators, including Republicans Mitt Romney, Ted Cruz, and Dan Sullivan, as well as Democrats Joe Manchin, Jeanne Shaheen, Benjamin Cardin, Tammy Duckworth and Tim Kaine.

“By the end of 2024, 18 NATO countries will meet the Alliance’s goal to ensure 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 defence spending,” the letter continues.

While other countries in NATO—like Spain and the Netherlands—have also fallen short of the 2 percent mark, the letter is directed at Trudeau because, unlike those countries, Canada doesn't appear to have a plan to reach the target.

The Defense Department's budget last year was $26.9 billion. The new defence policy outlines an additional $8.1 billion in spending over the next five years, totalling $73 billion by 2044.

"We anticipate a robust partnership between the U.S., Canada and all Allies to achieve the benchmarks the Alliance has identified to enable us to defend democracy, preserve security and expand opportunity," the letter continues.

Both Prime Minister Trudeau and Defense Minister Bill Blair have indicated that the government anticipates spending even more, as the policy includes plans for a new fleet of submarines and other yet-to-be-costed equipment.

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