Donald Trump may force Canada to reconsider defence spending: Former Trudeau advisor

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President-elect Donald Trump wants Canada to bump up its defence spending and there may be good reasons to do so, says former Trudeau advisor Roland Paris – Nov 13, 2016

Canada might have to boost defence spending once President-elect Donald Trump takes office in the new year.

READ MORE: NATO chief focused on strong ‘transatlantic bond’ with US following Trump victory

Throughout his campaign, Trump called on the United States’ NATO allies to pony up, telling voters that with him in the Oval Office, the U.S. wouldn’t necessarily come to the defence of a NATO ally under attack – effectively threatening one of the treaty’s cornerstone.

Though Trump called into question some fundamentals of American foreign policy – including trade and alliance commitments – not everyone believes the president-elect will  toss agreements that have underpinned a largely stable, open international system for decades.

READ MORE: Republican Congress will protect NAFTA: former governor, White House aide

“I’m not convinced Donald Trump is going to throw away NATO or tear up NAFTA, but we’re in a moment of uncertainty now where all of America’s partners are wondering … how will those very significant changes that he was setting out in broad terms in his campaign be translated into specific policy,” said Roland Paris, who holds the research chair in international security and governance at the University of Ottawa and was once foreign policy advisor to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

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“Canada has an interest in nudging the United States back into thinking about NATO as an alliance and not thinking about it in instrumental terms, as a way of extracting resources,” Paris told The West Block’s Tom Clark, highlighting the stabilizing effects the treaty has had on Europe – both politically and security-wise – for almost 70 years.

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Through NATO, Canada committed to spend two per cent of GDP on defence, but only spends about half of that.

“Canada does pay less than a lot of other NATO allies in terms of our defence budget. What Canadian governments say, and it’s true, is that when Canada is called upon to provide forces to specific NATO missions that Canada almost always provides very useful forces and sometimes in leadership positions,” Paris said, pointing to Canada’s missions in Latvia and Afghanistan as examples.

READ MORE: Canada still committed to NATO despite President-elect Donald Trump

Federal Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan, as an assurance to allies, said last week Canada’s commitment to NATO is unwavering following the U.S. election.

Sajjan said Canada and the United States enjoy a close relationship, which he doesn’t expect to change under the new administration.

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With a file from The Canadian Press

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