US Senators Urge Canada to Increase Defense Spending Ahead of NATO Summit

A bipartisan group of 23 United States senators sent a letter to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Thursday, calling on his government to fulfill its commitment to spend 2% of its gross domestic product (GDP) on defense, as agreed upon by NATO allies in 2023. 

The letter, sent ahead of the upcoming NATO summit in Washington in July, emphasized the importance of all NATO members, but particularly Canada, meeting this target amid a severe threat landscape facing the alliance. 

The senators, led by Democratic Senator Jeanne Shaheen and Republican Senator Thom Tillis, co-chairs of the US Senate NATO Observers Group, acknowledged Canada’s valuable contributions to NATO operations worldwide. However, they stressed that the alliance now faces one of the most significant threats in its history and urged Canada to accelerate efforts to reach the 2% defense spending target.

When asked about the letter, Canada’s Defence Minister Bill Blair pointed to a recent policy update announced in April, in which the Trudeau government pledged billions more for the armed forces and projected military spending to reach 1.76% of GDP by 2030, up from the current 1.4%. Blair said that the government’s timeline for reaching the 2% mark would be based on the requirements of the Canadian Armed Forces and in close consultation with allies.

The failure of many NATO members to meet the defense spending target has been a long-standing source of tension with the United States, whose armed forces form the core of the alliance’s military power. NATO estimates show that only 11 out of 31 members are currently spending at the target level.

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