Trump calls Canada ‘slightly delinquent’ for not meeting NATO defence spending goals

U.S. President Donald Trump says Canada is “slightly delinquent” compared to other NATO allies failing to meet their defence spending targets.

In a media availability with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau ahead of a joint meeting on Tuesday, Trump was asked about his repeated references to NATO allies not hitting the agreed-upon target of spending two per cent of their GDP on defence as “delinquent,” and was asked how he viewed Canada’s failure to do the same.

“Slightly delinquent, I would say Canada, but they’ll be okay. I have confidence,” Trump responded.

“Some are major delinquents, well below one per cent, and then if something happens we’re supposed to defend them? And it’s not really fair.”

NATO members agreed in 2014 to spend two per cent of their GDP on defence by 2024.

Almost five years later, though, most are still not hitting that goal.

According to a report published by NATO earlier this year, Canada’s defence spending for 2019 is projected to come in at 1.31 per cent of its GDP.

A separate ranking from the same month, excluding contributions to military pensions, projected Canada would end up at 1.27 per cent for the year.

Two years ago, that number was slightly higher at 1.44 per cent because of a one-off adjustment to those pensions, as noted in an assessment of Canadian defence spending done in May 2019 by the Canadian Global Affairs Institute.

Trump was then asked whether he would recommit to the NATO principle of shared defence even if faced with the decision of defending a member country that does not spend the target amount.

“It’s a very interesting question, isn’t it? It also depends on your definition of delinquent,” he said, suggesting he might look more favourably on countries spending a higher percentage of their GDP on defence than on those at the lower end of the spectrum.

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