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Justin Trudeau hints at boosting Canada’s military spending

Justin Trudeau hints at boosting Canada’s military spending

Canada says it will look at increasing its defence spending and tacked on 10 more Russian names to an ever growing sanctions list.

By Tonda MacCharles
Ottawa Bureau
Mon., March 7, 2022

Riga, LATVIA—On the 13th day of the brutal Russian bid to claim Ukraine as its own, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is showing up at the Latvian battle group led by Canadian soldiers, waving the Maple Leaf and a vague hint at more money for the military.

Canada has been waving the NATO flag for nearly seven years in Latvia as a bulwark against Russia’s further incursions in Eastern Europe.

Canada stepped up to lead one of NATO’s four battle groups in 2015 — part of the defensive alliance’s display of strength and solidarity with weaker member states after Russia invaded Ukraine and seized the Crimean peninsula in 2014. Trudeau arrived in the Latvian capital late Monday after meetings in the U.K. with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Netherlands Prime Minister Mark Rutte.

Earlier Monday, faced with a seemingly unstoppable war in Ukraine, Trudeau said he will look at increasing Canada’s defence spending. Given world events, he said there are “certainly reflections to have.”

And Canada tacked on 10 more Russian names to an ever-growing sanctions list.

The latest round of sanctions includes names Trudeau said were identified by jailed Russian opposition leader and Putin nemesis Alexei Navalny.

However, on a day when Trudeau cited the new sanctions, and Johnson touted new measures meant to expose Russian property owners in his country, Rutte admitted sanctions are not working.

Yet they all called for more concerted international efforts over the long haul, including more economic measures and more humanitarian aid, with Johnson and Rutte divided over how quickly countries need to get off Russian oil and gas.

The 10 latest names on Canada’s target list do not include Roman Abramovich — a Russian billionaire Navalny has been flagging to Canada since at least 2017. Canada appears to have sanctioned about 20 of the 35 names on Navalny’s list.

The Conservative opposition says the Liberal government is not yet exerting maximum pressure on Putin, and should do more to bolster Canadian Forces, including by finally approving the purchase of fighter jets.

Foreign affairs critic Michael Chong said in an interview that Ottawa must still sanction “additional oligarchs close to President Putin who have significant assets in Canada.”

Abramovich owns more than a quarter of the public shares in steelmaking giant Evraz, which has operations in Alberta and Saskatchewan and has supplied most of the steel for the government-owned Trans Mountain pipeline project.

Evraz’s board of directors also includes two more Russians the U.S. government identified as “oligarchs” in 2019 — Aleksandr Abramov and Aleksandr Frolov — and its Canadian operations have received significant support from the federal government.

That includes at least $27 million in emergency wage subsidies during the pandemic, as well as $7 million through a fund meant to help heavy-polluters reduce emissions that cause climate change, according to the company’s most recent annual report.

In addition to upping defence spending, the Conservatives want NORAD’s early warning system upgraded, naval shipbuilding ramped up and Arctic security bolstered.

In London, Johnson sat down with Trudeau and Rutte at the Northolt airbase. Their morning meetings had a rushed feel, with Johnson starting to usher press out before Trudeau spoke. His office said later that the British PM couldn’t squeeze the full meeting in at 10 Downing Street because Johnson’s “diary” was so busy that day. The three leaders held an afternoon news conference at 10 Downing.

But before that Trudeau met with the Queen, saying she was “insightful” and they had a “useful, for me anyway, conversation about global affairs.”

Trudeau meets with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg Tuesday in Latvia.

The prime minister will also meet with three Baltic leaders, the prime ministers of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, in the Latvian capital of Riga.

The Liberals announced they would increase the 500 Canadian Forces in Latvia by another 460 troops. The Canadians are leading a multinational battle group, one of four that are part of NATO’s deployments in the region.

Another 3,400 Canadians could be deployed to the region in the months to come, on standby for NATO orders.

But Canada’s shipments of lethal aid to Ukraine were slow to come in the view of the Conservatives, and the Ukrainian Canadian community.

And suddenly Western allies are eyeing each other’s defence commitments.

At the Downing Street news conference, Rutte noted the Netherlands will increase its defence budget to close to two per cent of GDP. Germany has led the G7, and doubled its defence budget in the face of Putin’s invasion and threats. Johnson said the U.K. defence spending is about 2.4 per cent and declined to comment on Canada’s defence spending which is 1.4 per cent of GDP.

But Johnson didn’t hold back.

“What we can’t do, post the invasion of Ukraine is assume that we go back to a kind of status quo ante, a kind of new normalization in the way that we did after the … seizure of Crimea and the Donbas area,” Johnson said. “We’ve got to recognize that things have changed and that we need a new focus on security and I think that that is kind of increasingly understood by everybody.”

Trudeau stood by his British and Dutch counterparts and pledged Canada would do more.

He defended his government’s record, saying Ottawa is gradually increasing spending over the next decade by 70 per cent. Then Trudeau admitted more might be necessary.

“We also recognize that context is changing rapidly around the world and we need to make sure that women and men have certainty and our forces have all the equipment necessary to be able to stand strongly as we always have. As members of NATO. We will continue to look at what more we can do.”

The three leaders — Johnson, a conservative and Trudeau and Rutte, progressive liberals — in a joint statement said they “will continue to impose severe costs on Russia.”

Arriving for the news conference from Windsor Castle, Trudeau had to detour to enter Downing Street as loud so-called Freedom Convoy protesters bellowed from outside the gate. They carried signs marked “Tuck Frudeau” and “Free Tamara” (Lich).

Protester Jeff Wyatt who said he has no Canadian ties told the Star he came to stand up for Lich and others who were leading a “peaceful protest” worldwide against government “lies” about COVID-19 and what he called Trudeau’s “tyranny.”

Elsewhere in London, outside the Russian embassy, other protesters and passersby reflected on what they said was real tyranny — the Russian attack on Ukraine. “I think we should be as tough as possible to get this stopped, as tough as possible,” said protester Clive Martinez.
 

Kirkhill

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One of these is not like the other.

Military expenditure (% of GDP) in Canada was reported at 1.4151 % in 2020, according to the World Bank collection of development indicators, compiled from officially recognized sources. Canada - Military expenditure (% of GDP) - actual values, historical data, forecasts and projections were sourced from the World Bank on November of 2022.


Sweden moving from 1.4% of GDP to 2% - bringing the timeline forwards by 2 years to 2026.


Canada pays salaries and pensions.

Sweden buys hardware

assets include Patriot batteries, 100 jet fighters, electric submarines, naval surface combatants with low signatures and “good intelligence capabilities, particularly on Russia,” he said.

In addition, Sweden punches way above its weight when it comes to its defense industry. “There's no other country in the world of 10 million people who can produce submarines, fighter aircraft, advanced combat vehicles and artillery pieces,” he said. “I think we can bring things to the table when it comes to innovation and technology and partner up with corporations and new starts in the United States.”

The new Swedish government is also steadfastly supporting Ukraine’s fight against Russia with its ninth military aid package, totaling some $300 million, which is more than the previous eight aid packages combined, he said. The new funding will provide cold weather gear, equipment for the winter and air defense technology, he added.

Sweden elected a new government in September, and Jonson was sworn in as the new defense minister about a month later. The previous government had vowed to raise its defense spending in line with the NATO threshold by 2028. Jonson said Sweden currently spends about 1.4 percent of its GDP on defense. However, with the worsening security situation in Europe, the nation will move that goal up to 2026, he said.

“This is about solidarity with other allies. The Baltic nations are at about 2 percent. Poland is way over 2 percent, and Germany is on the track to 2 percent,” he said. All eight parties in the newly formed Swedish government support meeting the threshold, although half of them want to keep the original goal of 2028, he noted. “We can find bipartisan agreement on it,” he added.

As far as interoperability with NATO nations’ weapon systems, Jonson said Sweden doesn’t have far to go. Creating interoperable command, control and communications systems among the treaty’s allies has been a long-standing problem among members, as they go their separate ways when acquiring systems.

“We’re quite interoperable with NATO. We use Link 16 and Link 22 [radios]. Since we participate in many crisis management operations, we’re not so worried about the command structures as such. I think we're well on our way to integrate the internet since we've been participating in so many exercises,” he said.

Along with joining NATO, Sweden actively participates in exercises and keeps an eye on the Arctic region, where Russia has been continuing to aggressively advance its interests, he said. The war in Ukraine has not diminished Russia’s activity in the region, he noted.

And China has declared itself a “near-Arctic” nation and is increasing its activity there even though no other nation recognizes it as such, Jonson added. “They've been increasing their presence there as well, and we're cognizant about that,” he said. Sweden published a new Arctic strategy two years ago, which is “more precise” when it comes to some of the threats, risks and vulnerabilities there, especially with increased Russian presence, he said.

“There's going to be more focus on the Arctic in the future,” Jonson said.

Sweden has used its neutrality to its advantage. Its subsidization of the homegrown arms industry has resulted in innovations that have found homes in other armies, navies and air forces. Including the US @KevinB.

Even if Canada does sit in the attic of the arsenal of democracy it would benefit the US to encourage Canada to take on new interests.

You want help to hold North America - you have to make it worth our while. Just like you did with the Auto Pact for Norad and Free Trade for the North Warning System.
 

MilEME09

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CDS essentially admits we are not able to under take any large scale operations, we are too under staffed and under equipped.

 

kev994

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CDS essentially admits we are not able to under take any large scale operations, we are too under staffed and under equipped.

I admire his courage to say these things when his boss is basically telling the voting public that ‘this is fine.’
 

daftandbarmy

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CDS essentially admits we are not able to under take any large scale operations, we are too under staffed and under equipped.


Good of him to save the government the trouble... a real servant leader move ;)

Mad Men Stan Rizzo GIF
 

rmc_wannabe

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CDS essentially admits we are not able to under take any large scale operations, we are too under staffed and under equipped.


Shame. I really liked him...

Minister Anand at the moment:
 

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suffolkowner

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CDS essentially admits we are not able to under take any large scale operations, we are too under staffed and under equipped.

Forgetting the Navy and Airforce for a second what is the Army doing that is stressing it so much? A peacetime deployment to Latvia? At what point is it the CAF's and CDS's responsibility to be able to deliver? Quite frankly the CAF's dont seem like value for money. Is it because the funding is never enough to get an appreciable return or is it because of the choices made by successive governments and CDS's?
 

daftandbarmy

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Forgetting the Navy and Airforce for a second what is the Army doing that is stressing it so much? A peacetime deployment to Latvia? At what point is it the CAF's and CDS's responsibility to be able to deliver? Quite frankly the CAF's dont seem like value for money. Is it because the funding is never enough to get an appreciable return or is it because of the choices made by successive governments and CDS's?

Holy crap...

"Eyre said his number one priority is getting Canada’s armed forces up to full strength, with an attrition rate of 9.3 per cent between both regular and reserve forces, up from 6.9 per cent last year. The Canadian Armed Forces Retention Strategy was released just last month."
 

suffolkowner

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Holy crap...

"Eyre said his number one priority is getting Canada’s armed forces up to full strength, with an attrition rate of 9.3 per cent between both regular and reserve forces, up from 6.9 per cent last year. The Canadian Armed Forces Retention Strategy was released just last month."
Yeah that seems like a bad number. its been known that recruitment and retention have been a problem for a long time. Its been talked about on this site. I mean 9.3% is going to be an insurmountable problem if not fixed quickly. Can the CAF do that? It also doesnt help when people wait 2 years to join up.

The 9.3% attrition this is from people not reupping or is the CAF losing 9.3% a year of total personel?
 

suffolkowner

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Thats a lot for a big institution. Sometimes the problem has to get really big before anyone pays attention I guess. For any small business Ive been involved with we 10% attrition would have been considered a good year. But I have a feeling the CAF are losing the people that actually do the work and are necessary to everyday function. Funny how not that long ago we were talking about some sort of mandatory service, maybe we need it to save the CAF's from itself as much as to provide career opportunities for people
 

Furniture

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Thats a lot for a big institution. Sometimes the problem has to get really big before anyone pays attention I guess. For any small business Ive been involved with we 10% attrition would have been considered a good year. But I have a feeling the CAF are losing the people that actually do the work and are necessary to everyday function. Funny how not that long ago we were talking about some sort of mandatory service, maybe we need it to save the CAF's from itself as much as to provide career opportunities for people
The last thing the CAF needs is people forced to be there... Want to see your good people leave? Make them work alongside people who don't want to be there, and don't care about the job.
 

Humphrey Bogart

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Holy crap...

"Eyre said his number one priority is getting Canada’s armed forces up to full strength, with an attrition rate of 9.3 per cent between both regular and reserve forces, up from 6.9 per cent last year. The Canadian Armed Forces Retention Strategy was released just last month."

The CAF has a retention strategy? 😄

I thought they were saying as little as a few months ago: "what retention problem?"
 

dimsum

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Thats a lot for a big institution. Sometimes the problem has to get really big before anyone pays attention I guess.
I wonder what the "standard" level of attrition is for the CAF? It can't be zero because people do retire.
 

rmc_wannabe

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The reason for why there is that much attrition is 2 fold:

-the largest cohort of generations since the Second World War is starting to retire. Their "replacements" weren't hired due to the FRP in the 90s. Massive gaps up in the senior side of the house for both the Snr NCO/WO cadre as well as the Officer corps.

And

-"doing more with less" for 40 odd years means our equipment is broken, harder to maintain, and in some cases; divested to the point where you're not actually doing the job you saw in the cool recruiting video. Couple that with the gradual the "doing more with less" reduction in traditional supports like housing, social clubs, messes, infrastructure; while downloading it onto the member to provide, while refusing to budge on revizing the Compensation and Benefits structure to attract and retain talent.

Put those two things together and your "CAF Offer TM" isn't nearly as awesome as you make it out to be; both for recruiting and retention.
 
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