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

The Canadian Press
Ottawa: Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan says Canada is looking at significant new investments in defence that will follow the forthcoming release of its defence policy review.

Sajjan made the remarks today when asked about U.S. President Donald Trump’s repeated complaints about NATO members failing to carry their share of the cost of the alliance.

Sajjan is in the middle of a series of defence meetings in Europe, including a gathering of NATO ministers.

Speaking to a teleconference from Brussels, he says he has spoken with U.S. Defence Secretary James Mattis, who stressed the importance of the NATO alliance.

Sajjan says Canada is demonstrating its commitment to NATO by contributing troops and leading a multinational NATO mission in Latvia as part of what is known as Operation Reassurance.

He says the policy review looked at Canadian defence needs for the next 20 years and that means more money, although he didn’t say how much.

NATO says member states should aim to spend two per cent of GDP on defence. Canada now spends about one per cent.

“We knew that spending by the previous government was low and the defence policy review allowed us to do a thorough analysis of what was required,” the minister said.

“Yes, this will require defence investments.”

The government is looking at predictable, planned investments, he said.

“We in Canada need to be able to demonstrate a thorough plan and what type of defence investment is needed, because this is significant money that needs to be invested, but the Canadian taxpayer also requires us to make sure that we are efficient with the money.”

As well as the NATO talks and a meeting with a counter-ISIL group led by Mattis, Sajjan also had bilateral meetings with the NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and ministers from Australia, France, Germany, Portugal, Slovenia and the United Kingdom.

He is heading to Germany for the Munich Security Conference, where senior decision-makers from around the world will discuss international security challenges.