In preparation for Wednesday’s unveiling of a new blueprint for the Canadian military, Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland warned Canadians that they should expect to devote more resources to defense, citing unpredictable behavior from the United States.
Speaking to the House of Commons, she said:
“The fact that our friend and ally has come to question the very worth of its mantle of global leadership puts in sharper focus for the rest of us to set our own clear and sovereign course. To say this is not controversial: it is a fact.”
Canada currently spends about $16 billion on its military or about 1% of GDP. The sum qualifies Canada as the sixteenth largest defense spender in the world, yet it still spends only about one-fortieth the total that the United States does. As a member of NATO, Canada ostensibly commits to spending at least 2% of GDP on defense.
The comment from Freeland follows a similar one by German Chancellor Angela Merkel. The nationalist policies of the Trump administration have placed it at odds with many nations around the world, whose concerns include the rejection of the Paris climate accord, rejection of free trade, and comments that the United States may not honor NATO’s mutual non-defense pact.
Many now see Canada as representing past American ideals, although without the seemingly limitless power of America to spread them. In addition to climate, trade, and defense, Ms. Freeland also touted Canada’s record in accepting immigrants and refugees and emphasizing the important of continuing to allow a home in the country for the displaced around the earth.
Wednesday’s report will also likely detail Canada’s future plans for foreign aid.
Freeland was a journalist for years before becoming an MP from Toronto. She joined President Trudeau’s cabinet after he became Canada’s Prime Minister.