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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.
 

Haggis

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The CAF would benefit from a lot of things. Rank them and start at the top of the list instead of willy-nilly throwing money around. Why bother reforming procurement if we're just going to find another rathole to pour money down?
Nobody in government cares what the CAF would benefit from. They care about what the government needs to stay in power. Defense spending at the expense of other vote getting spending doesn't get you re-elected.
 

MilEME09

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Providing infra funds to communities where the CAF benefits lets the communities deal with contracting and maintenance, and avoids ADM IE / DCC and other sinkholes of inefficiency.
Or instead of being reactionary let's create 10 and 20 year strategic growth and infrastructure plans for bases, and other areas. Prioritize them and provide the funding
 

Haggis

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Providing infra funds to communities where the CAF benefits lets the communities deal with contracting and maintenance, and avoids ADM IE / DCC and other sinkholes of inefficiency.
Maybe each remote northern community airfield should come with a ROWPU delivered by that A330.
 

Czech_pivo

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I know what you're getting at but you can't be using the word "Socialist" as a defining characteristic. National Socialists are significantly different political philosophy from Socialist Republics. And communists sure as hell aren't actually socialists either.

That's like saying everyone who called themselves a Peoples Democracy is actually a Democracy...
I know it, I was just having a bit of propagandistic fun at the expense of Singh and gang.
The USSR was never really ‘Communist’ anyways.
 

Grimey

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Canada needs a new white paper - a non partisan one that will be followed by governments for 20+ years.
The Australians have their collective poop in a group on that. There seems to be a broad consensus on Oz’s place in the world that supplants the bickering, pork barreling and procurement inertia that we can’t seem to solve.
 

TacticalTea

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The Australians have their collective poop in a group on that. There seems to be a broad consensus on Oz’s place in the world that supplants the bickering, pork barreling and procurement inertia that we can’t seem to solve.
Perhaps this may serve as a lead in unraveling this mystery:

Canadian PMs

1648439873977.png
Australian PMs
1648439886075.png
 

dimsum

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The one thing I'll note about that chart is that at least in the past 15 or so years, those changes of govt (especially the ones where the replacement is also from the same party) doesn't mean the Australians voted every time.

e.g. The Rudd-Gillard-Rudd flip was because Gillard effectively deposed Rudd, who came back to depose her, then called an election where Labor (read: Liberal) lost to Liberal (read: Conservative).

Also from Wiki:
The last prime minister to serve out a full government term in the office was John Howard, who won the 2004 election and led his party to the 2007 election, but lost. Since then, the five subsequent prime ministers have been either voted out of the office mid-term by the caucuses of their own parties, assumed the office mid-term under such circumstances, or both.

Australian politics is actually really fun to watch because you never know when your own party will stab you in the back.

But yes, all major parties know that Oz is in an unfriendly neighbourhood so Defence isn't a football. That doesn't mean pork-barrelling and Australianization leading to procurement issues isn't a thing - it totally is and I've shared links of their procurement screw-ups elsewhere in here.

Another factor is that their media just doesn't really make hay over it like ours does, and when it does, it's not international news so Canadians don't see it. The last probable ADF international news was when one of their SAS platoons was accused of potential war crimes in Afghanistan.
 

IKnowNothing

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Arguably SSE allows the CAF to field a very robust force.
I’d argue it’s tunnel vision inside the CAF that is the biggest issue, or no one wanting to sacrifice their careers on that hill

I'd also argue (based on a little further digging on @Kirkhill 's Denmark comparison) that funding isn't the primary issue either. We have 85-90% of the spend by GDP% and 50-60% of the pro-rated capability. That's a ridiculous gap in value per dollar.

"Wait and see if the government takes this seriously and gives us more money" is an unacceptable response to a land war in Europe that we are grossly unprepared to play any meaningful role in should it get to an Article 5 situation.


If procurement/ bureaucracy is the problem, cut the gordian knot.
"Urgent Operational Requirements (UORs) arise from the identification of previously unprovisioned and emerging capability gaps as a result of current or imminent operations or where deliveries under existing contracts for equipment or services require accelerating due to an increased urgency to bring the capability they provided into service. These capability shortfalls are addressed by the urgent procurement of either new or additional equipment, enhancing existing capability, within a time scale that cannot be met by the normal acquisition cycle"

I'd say that "active shooting war with NATO considering entering/ being pulled into" = urgent and a battlegroup stationed in Latvia = operational.

Time for leaders to lead.
 

Fabius

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Lol so far the Army’s main response has been to cut this years ammo allocations by a massive margin.
No idea why. 🤷‍♂️
 

daftandbarmy

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Time for leaders to lead.

In the current political environment this will be highly unlikely to happen.

I'm guessing it will be more like 'subordinate leaders will muddle through in the absence of clear direction from gun shy senior leaders'.

Which is how we got to where we are now, of course ;)
 

TacticalTea

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The one thing I'll note about that chart is that at least in the past 15 or so years, those changes of govt (especially the ones where the replacement is also from the same party) doesn't mean the Australians voted every time.

e.g. The Rudd-Gillard-Rudd flip was because Gillard effectively deposed Rudd, who came back to depose her, then called an election where Labor (read: Liberal) lost to Liberal (read: Conservative).

Also from Wiki:


Australian politics is actually really fun to watch because you never know when your own party will stab you in the back.

But yes, all major parties know that Oz is in an unfriendly neighbourhood so Defence isn't a football. That doesn't mean pork-barrelling and Australianization leading to procurement issues isn't a thing - it totally is and I've shared links of their procurement screw-ups elsewhere in here.

Another factor is that their media just doesn't really make hay over it like ours does, and when it does, it's not international news so Canadians don't see it. The last probable ADF international news was when one of their SAS platoons was accused of potential war crimes in Afghanistan.
It's not so much of exactly who or what Australians vote for, but rather what they pay attention to, and thus, as you say, what their media report on and how.
I'd also argue (based on a little further digging on @Kirkhill 's Denmark comparison) that funding isn't the primary issue either. We have 85-90% of the spend by GDP% and 50-60% of the pro-rated capability. That's a ridiculous gap in value per dollar.

"Wait and see if the government takes this seriously and gives us more money" is an unacceptable response to a land war in Europe that we are grossly unprepared to play any meaningful role in should it get to an Article 5 situation.


If procurement/ bureaucracy is the problem, cut the gordian knot.
"Urgent Operational Requirements (UORs) arise from the identification of previously unprovisioned and emerging capability gaps as a result of current or imminent operations or where deliveries under existing contracts for equipment or services require accelerating due to an increased urgency to bring the capability they provided into service. These capability shortfalls are addressed by the urgent procurement of either new or additional equipment, enhancing existing capability, within a time scale that cannot be met by the normal acquisition cycle"

I'd say that "active shooting war with NATO considering entering/ being pulled into" = urgent and a battlegroup stationed in Latvia = operational.

Time for leaders to lead.
Plenty justification, too, for an international emergency declaration as per the emergency measures act, which would allow the government/military to bypass procurement rules.
 

Brad Sallows

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Should be able to manage procurement without another EA invocation. Use ordinary processes first before jumping to extraordinary powers.
 

Remius

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FMAS, emergency requirements and national security exceptions could all be used. No need for the EA.
 

McG

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My simple way to spend $1B annually: an infrastructure fund to permit remote, mostly northern communities to upgrade roads, bridges and especially airfields.

Channelling it through Defence means there can a some degree of filter to privilege locations that are militarily useful, or to expand beyond community needs (so for example getting Iqaluit an airfield that could support an A330), but using the military as a source of public works funding would be an easy win / win.
In Canada’s north, communication and transportation infrastructure are dual use. There are a lot of community airfields that are not accessible even to C17, which could be an impediment if we needed to surge a capability like ROWPU or radars.
 

TacticalTea

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DoD managed to field mobile and armoured GBAD pretty fast last year. Any chance we could do the same with our LAVs? They're even working on fitting them with Directed Energy systems for C-RAM/anti-drone purposes. Something we ought to be doing with our upcoming class of frigates, btw...
 
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