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Canada will become increasingly alienated by its international partners should it continue to fail to meet its NATO defence spending targets. 

The Business Council of Canada – an organization representing Canada’s top business leaders and CEOs – has sent an open letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, urging him to develop a plan to meet NATO’s defence spending target of 2%.

Highlighting the growing calls by Canada’s allies to get on board with meeting NATO’s defence spending targets, Business Council of Canada CEO Goldy Hyder said that Canada risks becoming diplomatically isolated from our allies if there are no changes to the Trudeau government’s defence spending plans.

“There is a growing concern that Canada – one of the 12 founding members [of NATO] – will be singled out at that summit as the only member of the 32-nation alliance who has not committed to invest at least two per cent of GDP on defence by the end of this decade,” said Hyder.

“The consequences that would result from this diplomatic isolation, in terms of both our security and economic partnerships, will have broad ramifications for all Canadians. Fortunately, it is not too late.”

Hyder is calling on Trudeau to make a public statement before NATO’s mid-July summit in Washington DC revising his defence spending plans to reach 2% of GDP by 2029-30 to avoid the further weakening of Canada’s diplomatic position.

At NATO’s 2023 summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, Canada made a commitment to spend at least 2% of GDP on defence, though Prime Minister Trudeau did not commit to reaching this goal to the public.

Only a few months ago, the Trudeau government had announced their update to Canada’s defence policy in which the government pledged to increase spending to 1.76% of GDP by 2030, still below NATO’s target.

In May, 23 U.S. senators, both Republicans and Democrats, sent a letter to Trudeau, urging him to uphold Canada’s commitment to NATO and reform the government’s plan to reach the target.

The U.S. has been urging NATO allies like Canada to contribute their fair share to providing for defence, as the allied nation contributes 66.8% of total defence spending among the entire alliance as of 2022.

Currently, Canada is 27th out of 32 NATO countries in defence spending as a share of GDP, outmatched by allies like the U.S. who spend 3.49% of GDP and the United Kingdom who spend 2.07% of GDP.

In a comment to True North, the Conservative MP James Bezan said that his party would stand up for the Canadian Armed Forces and would meet NATO’s 2% target.

“Common sense Conservatives are the only party standing up for our military and our troops,” said Bezan.

“We will restore our economy and our military, and will work towards meeting Canada’s NATO spending commitment, to ensure we bring home safety and security and restore Canada as a reliable partner to our allies.”