Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who wrapped up the two-day NATO summit in Brussels, says Canada hasn’t committed to spending new money on defence, despite U.S. President Donald Trump’s comments that he convinced NATO allies to dramatically hike spending.
Canada has reaffirmed its commitment to work towards contributing two per cent of its gross domestic product to military spending and reverse any cuts.
Trudeau said Canada has been “taking the right approach” on defence spending, pointing to the Liberals’ plans to increase the defence budget by 70 per cent over the next decade to $32.7 billion.
“The president has been consistent that he wants to see people spending more on defence in their countries and we are very pleased we are doing that,” Trudeau told reporters.
“We’ll always step up, with cash yes but also with commitments and capacity. That’s what NATO is looking for.”
New figures released Tuesday by the military alliance show Canada only hits 1.23 per cent of GDP. Trudeau went into the summit after saying Canada was not prepared to double its defence budget to meet the NATO target.
Trump, on Thursday, said he had convinced NATO allies to increase defence spending to meet the alliance’s benchmark and perhaps go higher. He spoke at the closing of the two-day summit, which was punctuated with insults, arguments and high drama behind closed doors.
He went into the meeting questioning the value of the 70-year-old institution, but came out extolling its solidarity and the willingness of leaders to co-operate and work together. Trump claimed he had accomplished what other presidents had failed to do by pushing leaders to agree to higher spending.
Trump ended the meeting by insisting all members to increase their military spending this year to two per cent of their GDP, a standard established 16 years ago but rarely met by most of NATO, including Canada.