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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.
 

rmc_wannabe

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I have long said that you could fund the CAF to 4 percent of GDP, but we would still lag behind in NATO and be much the same where we are.

It's never the money, it's politics. It's procedures. It's the pork-barreling in our defence spending that makes us a paper tiger in NATO.

My only hope in all of this for the CAF and the GoC, whatever the political stripe that may be, is that it will rouse them out of the "Peace Dividend" slumber. The world has been unstable since 1945. We have used geography, proximity, and association as a Defence Policy ever since. ICBMs don't care how close to the U.S. or how far from Russia/China we are.

Don't give us a dime more, but let us spend money on defence like it matters. The fact we follow the same rules for purchasing a fighter aircraft as we do for buying office furniture for a Service Canada office is disgraceful. Don't treat defense procurement as a stimulus package for Canadian Industry. There I said it.

We spend so much money, time, and effort trying to get that money to stay in Canada; be it by awarding contracts to companies with no capability to produce items without first "retooling" and"developing the production lines", or by hamstringing perfectly competent and competitive bidders by forcing the project to be made in St. Margaret de Poutain de Champignon, QC because the ruling government either lost the seat in the election, or won it with promises.

We spend so much money and staff hours jumping through TBS regulations that are great for other departments, but are terrible for defence procurement. Some items you have to sole source, because there are technologies and capabilities no one else makes. By doing the bid process, you get companies clamoring for a project they can't deliver on, but because they tick the bright boxes on the score sheet....

I truly and honestly belief we need to split from PSPC and legislate that its not beholden to TBS, only to the PBO/PCO. The guiding principles of this new Defence Procurement department should be "Off the shelf, from somewhere else" if there isn't an industry in Canada.

BOOTFORGEN has demonstrated how well we do when we are able to actually get what we need, instead of lining the pockets of a Canadian company that got lucky.

That, but with tanks, fighters, ships, weapons systems....
 

Quirky

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Don't give us a dime more, but let us spend money on defence like it matters. The fact we follow the same rules for purchasing a fighter aircraft as we do for buying office furniture for a Service Canada office is disgraceful. Don't treat defense procurement as a stimulus package for Canadian Industry.

*angry Quebec enters the chat.
 

Dale Denton

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If this gov't at all wanted to undertake any changes to CAF policy/procurement, even a budget increase - anything - it would have announced it in the last 2 weeks, or at least made it known we're working on making changes...

"certainly reflections to have"

This is our long-term budgetary response to an unexpected and devastating new land war in europe started by a country we have a long and lightly defended border with whose victims have very strong ties to Canada.

A genuinely honest question for everyone:

"What world event would have to happen for us (gov't) to force us to make the necessary changes to the CAF (its org, people, policies, procurement, vision, etc...)?
 

rmc_wannabe

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If this gov't at all wanted to undertake any changes to CAF policy/procurement, even a budget increase - anything - it would have announced it in the last 2 weeks, or at least made it known we're working on making changes...

"certainly reflections to have"

This is our long-term budgetary response to an unexpected and devastating new land war in europe to a country by a country we have a long and lightly defended border with whose victims have very strong ties to Canada.

A genuinely honest question for everyone:

"What world event would have to happen for us (gov't) to make the necessary changes to the CAF (its org, people, policies, procurement, vision, etc...)?
Alien invasion or zombie apocalypse comes to mind. Both are never going to happen, therefore, it would be the most likely scenario
 

Navy_Pete

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Unless they cut some of the process it doesn't matter; large defence spending is now a 6 or 7 department affair with no single person able to make a final decision until you get to the PM. At $40M a lot of IRBs etc kick in, and now TB wants us to do 'Sustainment Business Case Analysis" for any NP project over $20M, which is a formal process with about a two year lead time so far, just to figure out if the support plan makes sense.

Insanity; I could make a fortune as a consultant just sitting in on all the stupid meetings.
 

GK .Dundas

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The system actually works perfectly, it isn't designed to procure equipment for use by the Canadian Armed Forces. That is however a byproduct and aside from the work generated by the system there is no end product.
And it gotten to the point where the Armed Forces are no longer considered the end-user and to be honest I suspect no is really is too sure who is. Or if there is even an end-user.
 

CBH99

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A genuinely honest question for everyone:

"What world event would have to happen for us (gov't) to force us to make the necessary changes to the CAF (its org, people, policies, procurement, vision, etc...)?
Someone with some common sense, a drive for efficiency, the fortitude to tell the system that it's broken and needs fixing, and a vision of what the country should look like from a reasonable and doable perspective, while staying ambitious.

Until the leaders of various departments can admit to themselves that they are part of the problem - and communicate a solution to Parliament, nothing will change.


World event required? A decently smart person, with a big picture in mind, getting into federal politics.

Too bad those ppl tend to go into business instead.
 

daftandbarmy

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Unless they cut some of the process it doesn't matter; large defence spending is now a 6 or 7 department affair with no single person able to make a final decision until you get to the PM. At $40M a lot of IRBs etc kick in, and now TB wants us to do 'Sustainment Business Case Analysis" for any NP project over $20M, which is a formal process with about a two year lead time so far, just to figure out if the support plan makes sense.

Insanity; I could make a fortune as a consultant just sitting in on all the stupid meetings.

Believe me... you don't want to be that kind of consultant ;)
 

Good2Golf

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If this gov't at all wanted to undertake any changes to CAF policy/procurement, even a budget increase - anything - it would have announced it in the last 2 weeks, or at least made it known we're working on making changes...

"certainly reflections to have"

This is our long-term budgetary response to an unexpected and devastating new land war in europe started by a country we have a long and lightly defended border with whose victims have very strong ties to Canada.

A genuinely honest question for everyone:

"What world event would have to happen for us (gov't) to force us to make the necessary changes to the CAF (its org, people, policies, procurement, vision, etc...)?
NATO Article 5 and a less narcissistic government…
 

OldSolduer

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With this government and the existing bureaucracy there isn't one.

It isn't one thing; its both things.

🍻
This government is fervently hoping the Canadian military withers on the vine, dries up and blows away. FJAG we both know what his father was like - he detested the military until October 1970 and after that it was hung out to dry. This PM is worse. At least the US had Ronald Reagan and the UK had Lady Maggie to put some starch in Pierre's spine - there is no one like that to figuratively cuff the young prince upside the head and tell him to smarten the f&ck up.
 

Navy_Pete

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Believe me... you don't want to be that kind of consultant ;)
I sure don't, but kind of hilarious to me how many people we don't listen to their recommendations when they are within the system, but suddenly pay attention when they come back as a SME hired by consulting firm with an impressive letter head. Maybe I should just get ahead of the curve and make my standard email signature block fancier with a wax seal or something?

Some things got waived during Afghanistan, so it's possible, but it's a lot easier to do when you are buying something from an OEM. The basic processes were still in place though, and it was Harper that brought in the procurement hydra that is DPS, the gift that keeps on giving ulcers. I don't care what they say, you don't 'streamline' anything by adding more oversight and additional stakeholders with new processes on top of the old ones.

Honestly a decade or so under some kind of benevolent dictator to burn the system down and start from scratch is probably needed to root out all the mini empires, legacy processes etc and build something that makes more sense.
 

OldSolduer

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Honestly a decade or so under some kind of benevolent dictator to burn the system down and start from scratch is probably needed to root out all the mini empires, legacy processes etc and build something that makes more sense.
I'll join your consulting team.

there is no such thing as a benevolent dictator.
 

GK .Dundas

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This government is fervently hoping the Canadian military withers on the vine, dries up and blows away. FJAG we both know what his father was like - he detested the military until October 1970 and after that it was hung out to dry. This PM is worse. At least the US had Ronald Reagan and the UK had Lady Maggie to put some starch in Pierre's spine - there is no one like that to figuratively cuff the young prince upside the head and tell him to smarten the f&ck up.
That is almost hysterically funny that presupposes that Canadian Prime Ministers actually pay that much attention to the military. It is just another Government department to them and therein lies the problem..It's not but that is the way it is.
The military is about the only governmental body whose members are required to lay down their lives of asked to.take the lives of their fellow human beings.
What Canadian politicians see is a department that whines about the size of budgets has members who very publicly can't keep it in their pants . Can't win you an election but could conceivably loose one for you.
And they tend to dress a little oddly too.
You're not dealing with malice by and large you dealing with a strange combination of ignorance lack of world level experience and irritation.
 

PuckChaser

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Just floating the idea to see the polling numbers. He's not serious because the rest of Canada isn't serious about defense.
 

dapaterson

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Fixing Defence procurement starts with fixing the officers who know nothing, decide to ignore all advice on the process, and waste a year or two before restarting and following the process in time to be replaced by an officer who knows nothing and ignores all advice on the process...
 
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