Question Period: North Atlantic Treaty Organization

By: The Hon. Clément Gignac

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Hon. Clément Gignac: Last week, some of my colleagues and I were at NATO headquarters in Brussels for the annual meetings with the parliamentary associations of NATO countries. It would appear as though 19 of the 32 member countries will meet the required defence spending target of 2% of GDP in 2024. With a rate of 1.38% of GDP, it seems as though Canada is still far from meeting the required minimum target.

In an interview last Tuesday with the Canadian channel CTV, NATO’s Secretary General said that he was still waiting for Canada to give him a date as to when it expects to meet its commitment. The U.S. ambassador to NATO added that Canada is the only member country that has not committed by providing a timeline.

On this historic day marking Sweden’s accession to NATO, when does your government intend to honour its commitment to our allies?

Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate): Thank you for the question. It is important to point out that Canada has one of the largest budgets of the 31-member defence alliance; I believe we rank seventh in terms of contributions. As you know, the government increased its spending by more than 70% as part of its 2017 defence policy. Over the past year, Canada has shown that it is ready to go even further.

Rest assured that Canada will continue to increase its military capacity to meet the challenges of today’s world and invest in modern equipment for its armed forces.

Senator Gignac: Thank you for your answer, Senator Gold. I’d like to point out that Canada is part of the G7. I’m therefore not surprised that its budget puts it in seventh or eighth place.

Despite its seven-party coalition government, Belgium agreed last June to meet the target of 2% of GDP by 2035 through binding legislation.

Do you think that the government could follow the example of our Belgian friends and introduce a legislative framework that compels compliance with our international obligations?

Senator Gold: Thank you for the question. The government has agreed to balance its national and international commitments while actively increasing its defence spending. As the Prime Minister said during his visit to Ukraine, a lot remains to be done regarding defence spending, and the government is determined to meet the 2% target in due course.

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