Trudeau must hold the line again at upcoming NATO Summit

In a 25 June statement, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that he would travel to Brussels, Belgium, to attend the NATO Summit on July 11 and 12, 2018:

NATO is a cornerstone of Canada’s international security policy, and an important alliance as we look for more stability in a world going through rapid change. I look forward to meeting with leaders from NATO member states in Belgium to deepen our already strong relationships, and to discuss what more we can and must do to advance peace and security for our citizens and people around the world.

The NATO Secretariat has issued a NATO Summit Guide which summarizes the Summit goals as follows:

NATO remains committed to fulfilling its three core tasks: collective defence, crisis management and cooperative security. At the Brussels Summit, the Alliance will make important decisions to further boost security in and around Europe, including through strengthened deterrence and defence, projecting stability and fighting terrorism, enhancing its partnership with the European Union, modernising the Alliance and achieving fairer burden-sharing.

But the Prime Minister, with the undeserved G7 debacle still fresh in his mind, will no doubt wish he could avoid yet another multilateral meeting where President Donald J. Trump promises to cause trouble.

In the summit lead-up Trump is already  haranguing NATO members about their allegedly low levels of defence spending. Not even Canada’s gargantuan increase of 70% over 10 years is enough for him.  In a June 19 letter, he writes:

The United States is increasingly unwilling to ignore this Alliance’s failure to meet shared security challenges….

So far the Defence Minister is giving no hint of capitulation, instead taking up an argument first raised by Rideau Institute Board member Michael Byers that Canada ought to be smarter about how it calculates its defence dollars.

Alas, one wonders why facts would influence Trump any more in future than they have to date!

But we expect our government to do more than hold the line on further defence budget increases. Canada must also resist any Summit declaration consensus that appears to endorse the extraordinarily reckless American Nuclear Posture Review proposals released in February 2018.  In the words of the Washington Post:

The Pentagon released a new nuclear arms policy Friday that calls for the introduction of two new types of weapons, effectively ending Obama-era efforts to reduce the size and scope of the U.S. arsenal and minimize the role of nuclear weapons in defense planning.

Prime Minister Trudeau stood firm in the face of Trump’s bullying at the G7 Summit in June.  Now the focus is not trade, but international security, and our Prime Minister must work with his German, French, Dutch and other likeminded European counterparts to avoid being complicit in further destabilizing moves by an increasingly unhinged American President.

For the full Prime Ministerial statement see: Prime Minister Trudeau to attend NATO Summit  (Statement on 25 June 2018).

See also: Armed with facts, Canada braces for another Trump tirade at NATO summit (Murray Brewster,, 27 June 2018).

For an analysis of the new USA Nuclear Posture Review, see: Trump seeks expanded nuclear capabilities (Kingston Reif, Arms Control Association, March 2018).

Photo credit: SOM architect images (New NATO Headquarters).





Tags: Arms Control Association, Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan, Michael Byers, NATO, NATO collective defence, NATO defence spending, NATO Secretary-General, NATO Strategic Doctrine, NATO Summit 2018, North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Nuclear Non Proliferation, USA 2018 Nuclear Posture Review