President Donald Trump reportedly said both he and Congress are fed up with Canada not meeting NATO defense spending targets.
In a June 19 letter to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau that has been reported by several Canadian media outlets and confirmed by the Canadian Press, Trump spoke of “growing frustration” with Canadian and other NATO allies’ defense spending levels.
“This frustration is not confined to our executive branch. The United States Congress has taken note and is concerned as well,” the correspondence reportedly said. It’s public disclosure comes at a time of increasing unease between the closest partners in the NATO alliance.
Trump further suggested that Trudeau has contributed to NATO’s “failure” to share the burden of its considerable defense responsibilities.
“The United States is increasingly unwilling to ignore this Alliance’s failure to meet shared security challenges,” Trump wrote.
Despite issuing an ambitious defense policy last summer that promises a 70 percent increase in defense spending, the Trudeau government document stretches that commitment over the next decade. Even if all expenditures are met it still fails to achieve the NATO mandate that member states spend two percent of their GDP on defense.
Trump did allow that Canada has been a willing partner in NATO’s military operations and remains a chief UN peacekeeping nation, but he said that is not enough.
“At the summit, we must ensure alliance credibility by living up to our agreed commitments. I expect to see a strong recommitment by Canada to meet the goals to which we have all agreed in the defense investment pledge.”
Canadian Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan did not deny that Canada is not fulfilling its obligations to NATO by meeting its defense spending target. Instead, spokeswoman Renee Filiatrault told Global News Friday that the Liberal government’s defense policy has been “rigorously costed, is fully funded, and serves Canada’s defense needs. It also upholds our long-standing role as an active contributor to global peace and security.”