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Wednesday May 29, 2024

Canada pledges to spend more on defence; US applauds move

The US, which for years pressured Canada to boost defense spending, welcomed the update

By Reuters
April 09, 2024
In this file photo, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks during a news conference in Ottawa, Canada. — AFP
In this file photo, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks during a news conference in Ottawa, Canada. — AFP

OTTAWA: Canada, under pressure from the United States to ramp up defence spending, on Monday pledged billions more for the armed forces and said its military expenditures would be closer to the Nato target by 2030.

In a defence policy update, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government said protecting the Arctic, as well as dealing with security challenges from Russia and China, meant Ottawa needed to beef up its defences.

“We are stepping up once again, to preserve and defend the rules-based order that has allowed people around the world to prosper for the better part of the last century,” Trudeau said in a press conference.

Canada’s military spending is set to hit 1.76 percent of its gross domestic product by 2030, still short of the 2 percent target Nato sets for member states, but up from the current 1.4 percent. Officials told reporters there was no target date to hit the 2 percent mark.

It is also unclear how much of the spending program will be put into effect, since polls show the Liberals badly trailing the official opposition Conservative Party ahead of an election that must be held by late October of 2025.

The US, which for years pressured Canada to boost defense spending, welcomed the update.

“The policy appears to articulate a substantial down payment toward Canada’s pledge to meet its Nato commitment ... we are also encouraged by the assurances we have received that there will be additional investments,” David Cohen, the US ambassador to Canada, said in a statement.