HALIFAX — Canada’s deputy minister of national defence held fast to the government’s stance on defence spending, despite some pointed questioning about Canada’s commitment during a NATO parliamentary meeting in Halifax.
U.S. congressman Michael Turner, the acting chairman of NATO’s defence and security committee, questioned Jody Thomas about whether Canada intends to table a plan for meeting the two per cent of GDP standard for defence spending that was agreed to by alliance members in 2014.
Thomas stuck to the Liberal government’s line, saying Canada intends to increase its defence budget by 1.46 per cent by the end of 2024.
She also reiterated that aside from its financial commitment, Canada believes it contributes to the alliance in a “qualitative” way through its participation in several NATO operations.
But Bob Stewart, a member of the United Kingdom delegation, reminded Thomas that Canada agreed to the commitment along with the rest of its partners in 2014. Stewart, a Conservative MP, says Canada’s current spending on defence is “not enough,” and getting to two per cent is crucial to strengthening the alliance.
“It’s something like 1.1 per cent at the moment, and honestly, it’s not enough,” Stewart said. “And there are many nations in this room that are not doing enough, and I include my own nation, the United Kingdom. Say, we are at 2.2 per cent, that is not enough in the current climate.”