NATO chief commends Canada upping defence spending but stresses 2% target

The head of NATO urged Canada to meet the alliance’s defence spending target while visiting the nation’s capital Wednesday, suggesting the billions of dollars in new investments — while notable — are not enough.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Canada’s updated defence policy, which commits $8 billion over five years and projects the defence budget’s share of GDP to rise to 1.76 per cent by then, is “important” for strengthening NATO and ensuring its collective security.“At the same time, I continue to expect that all allies should meet the guideline of spending two per cent (of GDP on defence),” he said.

Canada has been facing criticism and pressure to join a growing list of NATO allies in meeting the spending target.

Speaking at an event at the NATO Association in Ottawa, Stoltenberg said he knows it’s not easy for politicians to meet spending targets, but it’s important for all allies to increase spending right now given the dangerous global threat environment.“I know that it’s always easier to spend money on health, education, infrastructure and many other important tasks than to invest more in defence,” he said, pointing to reductions in security investments during relative peacetime.

“But when we reduce defence spending when tensions are going down, we must also be able to increase spending, investments in security, when tensions are increasing and are as high as they are today.”Stoltenberg has touted that 23 out of 32 NATO allies are set to meet or exceed the two per cent target this year, more than triple the number in 2021.

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