Defence minister hints at new money for military after meeting U.S. counterpart

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Harjit S. Sajjan Minister of National Defence, MP for Vancouver South

The Canadian Press
Ottawa: Canada’s defence minister is hinting at new money for the military following a much-anticipated meeting with his U.S. counterpart in Washington this week.

But Harjit Sajjan says what’s equally important is what countries do with their military, a line successive federal governments have used to defend Canada’s paltry defence spending.

The comments come one day after Sajjan sat down with U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis in Washington, the first such meeting between a Canadian minister and a member of the Trump administration.

Trump has repeatedly blasted NATO allies for not spending enough on their own defence, a message he repeated Monday even as Sajjan was meeting with Mattis.

The Liberal government is currently drawing up a new defence policy that sources say will start inching Canadian defence spending closer to NATO’s target of two per cent of GDP.

But they also say even with the additional funding, Canada will fall far short of that goal.

Canada’s current defence budget of $20 billion accounts for less than one per cent of GDP, meaning the government would have to double spending to reach NATO’s target.

Sajjan says he and Mattis also discussed Canada’s plan to send peacekeepers to Africa, though he isn’t saying whether the government is closer to deciding on a specific mission.