July 24, 2024

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Meeting Canada’s NATO commitments | Business Council of Canada

Letter to The Right Honourable Justin Trudeau, P.C., M.P., Prime Minister of Canada ahead of the 2024 NATO Summit with regards to Canada’s defence spending commitments.

Prime Minister –

As you travel home from the emotional ceremonies commemorating the 80th Anniversary of the D-Day landings, it is our hope you are returning to Canada with a renewed appreciation for the vital role the Canadian Armed Forces play in safeguarding both our national sovereignty and the collective security of our international allies.

While there were aspects of your governments recent defence policy update which we supported, its major failing was that it did not set out a plan for Canada to honour our longstanding commitment to increase our defence spending to the equivalent of two per cent of our Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Moreover, contrary to what we have consistently advocated, the investment plans outlined in the defence policy update were not shown to be sustainable. Specifically, there was no indication made that new investments in defence would be offset by a strategic program review which reallocates funds from other areas of government.

You may ask why an organization comprised of the chief executives of the leading and largest companies in Canada would have a position on defence spending. First and foremost, we are proud citizens who believe our country must have the sovereign capacity to protect Canadians in a far more turbulent world, one marked by growing geopolitical confrontation.

The second reason is we, like all Canadians, believe our country must keep its word once it has been given. Our standing on the global stage is undermined when we shirk our responsibilities and fail to share the burdens of upholding the open and free global order, that has provided Canadians with unprecedented levels of safety, security and prosperity.

To be clear, the world is watching. Just last month you received a letter from 23 U.S. Senators, both Democrats and Republicans, calling Canadians out for our shortfall in defence spending. The reality is that Canadian business leaders are met with similar calls and questions as we travel internationally and visit the capitals of our main allies.

Next month you will be in Washington, D.C. for another important event commemorating the 75th Anniversary of NATO. There is a growing concern that Canada – one of the 12 founding members – 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.

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. Your government could still make a public statement prior to the summit that it will review and revise its defence spending plans to achieve the full two per cent by 2029-30.

We live in increasingly perilous and uncertain times. It is vital that Canadians work cooperatively with our NATO allies to defend our borders, our interests, and our values. If we, as a country, fail to make this benchmark level of investment in defence, as successive Canadian governments including yours have promised, we will put lives and livelihoods at risk.

Yours very truly,

Goldy Hyder

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