The gap between the rhetoric of the federal government and the current state of our military is something our allies are less and less willing to ignore.
In the past few weeks, both the Wall Street Journal – an influential publication among powerful people in the United States – and the Economist – an influential publication among powerful people in the United Kingdom – have called out Canada for our lack of defence spending.
Here’s part of what the Wall Street Journal wrote:
“Canada ranks sixth from NATO’s bottom in spending on defense as a share of GDP, and its spending on military equipment—i.e., weapons—is seventh lowest. Canada is a member of the G-7 democracies but spends less on defense than the other six.
Canada was an important contributor to the Allied effort in World War II and is a founding member of NATO. But somewhere along the way it began to think of its membership as largely a place to rub shoulders with global powers and a platform for making moral pronouncements. Last week Ottawa put in its two cents against cluster munitions. But asking its citizens to meet their actual obligations to the cause of freedom is apparently too much to ask.”
And here’s part of what the Economist wrote:
“Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, even former military slowcoach Germany announced its determination to meet its 2% obligation. But Mr Trudeau has not shown much enthusiasm for bridging the gap. Leaked Pentagon intelligence documents, first reported in the Washington Post in April, confirmed that Mr Trudeau had told nato allies not only that Canada would not reach the 2% commitment but that it “never” would.
When Mr Trudeau was asked to confirm or deny the remark, he blandly replied: “I continue to say and will always say that Canada is a reliable partner to nato, a reliable partner around the world. And with our military investments, with the support we give to Canadians, we will continue to be doing that.””
U.S. Senator Dan Sullivan calls out Canada
At a meeting of the United States Senate Armed Services Committee, Alaskan Senator Dan Sullivan called out Canada for not pulling our weight when it comes to military spending.
Sullivan questioned Lt. General Guillot – the nominee for the next commander of NORAD – and asked him whether he would press Canada on our defence spending:
“.@NORADCommand has a unique binational responsibility of defending both 🇺🇸and 🇨🇦. Unfortunately, Canada doesn’t even come close to pulling its weight on defense spending.
Today in @SASCGOP, I asked Lt. General Guillot, nominee to assume command of NORAD, whether he will press the Canadians on their obligations.”
For those who had dismissed the importance of the Wall Street Journal editorial, it’s worth noting that Senator Sullivan directly references it, and even ensures that a quote from the editorial is put into the record. Newspapers – particularly those with an audience largely made up of business leaders, politicians, and other powerful officials – can have real influence, and can often indicate where the opinions of power brokers are trending.
As a country dependent upon maintaining strong alliances both for our national security and economic prosperity, we ignore views of the Wall Street Journal and the Economist at our peril.
Canada must pull our weight, because our word must mean something
The Trudeau government talks a good game about supporting our allies, being committed to NATO, and defending the shared values of free, democratic nations.
Unfortunately, that talk looks empty when the investment in our military doesn’t match. Our allies have every right to demand that we do more, especially the United States, given how much of a burden they shoulder in the defence of North America.
Canada has a proud history when it comes to fighting alongside our allies against fascism and communism. We proved ourselves – not with words – but with actions. Now, it’s time to remember our history and start meeting our NATO & NORAD commitments by increasing military spending and proving that our word means something.
Photo – Twitter