Despite Trump claim of ‘substantial’ spending boost, Canada is not announcing new money for NATO
U.S. President Donald Trump kicked up a flurry Thursday morning by claiming NATO members had agreed to “substantially” boost their defence spending.
In his closing news conference at the NATO summit, Trump told reporters that the 29 members of the alliance had made unprecedented pledges to get their defence budgets above and beyond the two per cent of GDP target agreed upon in 2014.
If true, that would be a historic move but there’s just one problem: it’s not.
Speaking with reporters shortly after Trump’s comments, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was cautious in his wording when pressed on whether he had agreed to any new spending commitments for the Canadian military.
Currently, Canada spends between .9 and 1.3 per cent of its GDP on defence, depending on how that is calculated.
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That means hitting the two per cent target would require a doubling of the Canadian military budget, which currently stands at roughly $20 billion.
Trudeau repeatedly stressed that Canada is going to increase its military spending.
In the Defence Policy Review released just a little over one year ago, the government vowed to grow the defence budget from $18.9 billion in 2017 to $32.7 billion in 2027, which represents an increase of 70 per cent.
Trudeau pointed to that boost in his comments.
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“We are increasing our defence budget. Indeed we’re increasing it by 70 per cent over the next decade,” said Trudeau. “The president has been consistent that he wants to see people spending more on defence in their countries and we are very pleased that we are doing exactly that.”
However, he also acknowledged that the increase does not mean Canada has agreed to hit the target Trump has claimed.
“Seventy [per cent] is not doubling, no,” he said.
It’s not the first time Trump has made false statements about NATO and the military spending of its members.
He has claimed in the past that member countries are “delinquent” in their spending and need to “reimburse” the U.S. for not hitting the two per cent target.
In reality, the two per cent target was agreed on by members in 2014 as an aspirational target meant to reverse a trend of declining defence spending.
The goal is for members to strive to spend two per cent of the GDP on defence by 2024.
It is not a requirement and despite the extra money already announced for the Canadian military, Canada will not hit the two per cent target by 2024.
Given the additional money is set to roll out over the next decade, it will only increase the military’s budget to roughly 1.4 per cent of GDP.
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