Canada Falls Short on NATO Defense Spending Goals


Canada remains among a minority of NATO allies failing to meet the alliance’s defense spending benchmark of 2% of gross domestic product (GDP), a goal exacerbated by Russia’s actions in Ukraine prompting heightened military expenditures among several member states. According to recent NATO data, of the 32 countries in the alliance, 23 are expected to meet the 2% threshold, while Canada, along with Croatia, Portugal, Italy, Belgium, Luxembourg, Slovenia, and Spain, are anticipated to fall short.

Canadian Defense Minister Bill Blair acknowledged the shortfall, committing to achieving the 2% target by the end of the decade. Currently projected to spend approximately 1.37% of GDP on defense in 2024, Canada aims to increase this to at least 1.75% by 2029, driven in part by plans to modernize its submarine fleet and other defense acquisitions.

Daniel Kochis, a NATO expert at the Hudson Institute, criticized Canada’s lagging defense spending, highlighting it as a significant concern within the alliance. He noted that while larger European countries often face scrutiny for insufficient spending, Canada’s economic stature and global role underscore its notable shortfall under Prime Minister Trudeau’s administration.

Canadian Defense Minister Bill Blair emphasized the evolving security landscape, emphasizing that Canada’s sovereignty and security can no longer rely solely on geographic isolation. This perspective reflects growing concerns over Arctic accessibility, technological advancements, and adversarial actions necessitating enhanced readiness.

In addition to failing to meet the 2% GDP benchmark, Canada and Belgium are also notable for not meeting NATO’s secondary guideline of allocating at least 20% of defense spending towards equipment, weaponry, and capabilities. Dalibor Rohac of the American Enterprise Institute attributed Belgium’s spending habits to geographic factors, while noting Canada’s proximity to Russia as a complicating factor in its defense policy decisions.

Mike Brest
Mike Brest
Defense Reporter. Prior to joining the defense beat, he spent two years covering breaking news, and he worked at the Daily Caller in a similar capacity before that. Mike graduated from American University and is originally from the suburbs of Philadelphia.

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