Trudeau visits Canadian troops leading North Atlantic Treaty Organisation mission in Lavtia ahead of summit

Clay Curtis
July 14, 2018

All NATO allies agreed in 2014 to stop cutting their military budgets and work towards spending two per cent of their GDP on defence by 2024.

Canada's mission leadership role faced a self-imposed government deadline of spring 2019, but has now been extended until 2023.

Trudeau will be accompanied by Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland, Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan and Gen. Jonathan Vance, chief of the defence staff.

But any increases in military spending will not come as a result of pressure to do so from "people talking about a two per cent goal", he said when asked about Trump, but rather because of a desire to live up to the country's commitments to its military allies around the world.

In a wide-ranging speech, Mr Abbott says having Mr Trump in the White House has been good for Australia and that it and America's other allies need to step up if they want Washington to remain a reliable partner.

He called the extended mission of Canadian troops in Latvia "a great present" that will contribute significantly to national security.

Ottawa has committed up to 250 Canadian troops and up to four Griffon helicopters to the mission, which includes a so-called "train the trainer" aspect to help the Iraqi army develop skills aimed at preventing the re-emergence of Islamic State militants and other threats to the country.

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Canada is expected to spend an estimated 1.23 per cent of its GDP on defence in 2018 - down from 1.36 per cent a year ago, says the annual report, which looks at military investments for all member states.

"We are committed to the Defense Investment Pledge (the 2 per cent of GDP target) agreed in 2014, and we will report annually on national plans to meet this pledge", the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation heads of government said.

Some see the controversial meeting as an undermining of the alliance itself, considering some of NATO's active military missions - including the one in Latvia - were undertaken in direct response to Russia's escalating aggression in the Baltic region.

"We certainly hope that Russian Federation will choose to become a more positive actor in world affairs than it has chosen to be in the past".

At a press conference on Tuesday morning, Trudeau assured reporters that Canada will continue to contribute to security in the Baltic Sea region: "These are uncertain times and I assured the Prime Minister Canada will continue to step up, as we always do".

"In order to trade we have to have safety", he said.

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