Ottawa — The Liberal Government responded to months of pressure from NATO on Thursday, promising $ 8.5 billion in new military spending over the next five years.
But the injection of this new money, provided in a federal budget on Thursday, remains largely symbolic so far, as the government remains ambiguous about exactly what this money will be used to buy. Seems to be.
Moreover, most of these spending will not be realized for several years.
Authorities also acknowledged that Canada is still well below NATO spending targets, even with additional funding.
Yet other allies have dramatically increased their own military investment following Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine by Russian troops.
In her budget document, Treasury Minister Chrystia Freeland only hinted at the need to strengthen new military investments and “ability to protect themselves.”
“Putin’s invasion of Ukraine also tells us that, like all democracy in the world, our own peaceful democracy ultimately depends on our ability to protect ourselves. It reminded me, “Freeland said in a budget. The dictator of the world should not confuse our civilization with pacifism. We know that freedom is not freedom, and peace is guaranteed only by our will to protect it.
“That’s why the budget provides immediate additional investment in our army and proposes a quick review of defense policy. As a result, Canada is now ready to face a more dangerous world. . “
The budget proposes an additional $ 8.5 billion in military spending over five years. In essence, this means $ 800 million to $ 3 billion annually in new spending by the Pentagon and the Canadian Armed Forces. This new money adds to the increase in previous spending that was included in the 2017 liberal defense policy.
The budget is specifically about $ 250 million for military cultural change efforts (sexual misconduct) and 450 million to expand military support missions to Ukraine and long-term anti-terrorism operations. We will provide you $ 10,000.
However, the budget remains ambiguous as to what the government will do with most of the remaining money, such as how much money will be used to strengthen the defense of North America with the United States.
Defense Minister Anita Anand promised a “strong investment package” earlier this week to modernize the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) in the coming months, raising high expectations ahead of Thursday’s budget. rice field.
According to the budget plan, the government is “examining options” to modernize NORAD, including investigating new commands, controls, communications capabilities, and strengthening “threat deterrence and counteracting capabilities.”
Military personnel and experts have warned of NORAD’s aging for years, some of which are now obsolete as Russia and other enemies develop more sophisticated weapons.
A senior Treasury official, speaking at a technical briefing on Thursday, suggested that the decision on how the money would be spent would probably come later, perhaps after a review of the government’s defense policy. It is not yet known when this review will begin.
GDP and NATO
The budget document also does not specify how the addition of new funds will affect defense spending as a share of Canada’s gross domestic product, but the Supreme Treasury officials say Canada will eventually mark one, within five years. Said to reach 5%.
In the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, this effort is unlikely to satisfy Canada’s allies of the Military Alliance (NATO), which had already urged member states to spend 2% of their GDP on defense.
It is estimated that Canada spent only 1.36% of GDP in the military last year. Only four NATO members, Belgium, Luxembourg, Slovenia and Spain, have reduced their spending.
All NATO member countries have agreed to the 2014 GDP target of 2%. This was reaffirmed at the extraordinary summit meeting in Brussels last month. Later, when we met again in Portugal in June, we promised to present a plan to achieve this goal.
However, Canada’s failure to meet NATO’s goals is unlikely to jeopardize the passage of the House of Commons budget. Conservatives have called on the government to dramatically increase military spending, but the New Democratic Party’s Prime Minister Jagmeet Singh, who recently signed a contract to support the Liberal Party, has already called the government’s goal “voluntary.” NATO.