Terrorism at centre stage as Trudeau heads to Europe for summits
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has arrived in Brussels for the NATO leaders’ summit, the alliance’s first such meeting since U.S. President Donald Trump moved into the White House.
The future of military alliances, the fight against climate change and even free trade are all expected to be on the agenda as Trump sits down with his NATO and G7 counterparts.
But officials and experts expect the spotlight to shine brightly on the fight against terrorism after the suicidebomb attack at a music concert in Manchester, England on Monday, which killed 22 people and injured 119.
Much of the emphasis at the NATO summit in Brussels is also expected to be on the amount allies spend on defence.
Canada spends only about one per cent of GDP, which is half of NATO’s stated target, and puts the country among the bottom third of allies.
A spirited debate about the defence spending levels of individual allies is expected to feature prominently Thursday when Trudeau sits down with other NATO leaders, including Donald Trump.
Ahead of the summit, the Department of National Defence has compiled new figures to illustrate more directly how different countries calculate their defence spending compared to Canada.
The point, say government sources familiar with the endeavour, is to illustrate how much higher Canadian defence spending would be than it is now if it included the same things other NATO allies put in their calculations.
Earlier this year, Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan said officials were looking at how Canada calculates military spending compared to other NATO members in order to better ensure a more accurate “apples to apples’’ comparison.
Items that other countries consider defence spending — but Canada does not — include the coast guard, some veterans’ benefits, federal police forces and border guards.
“There are lots of things that we spend on that other countries count, but we don’t,” one senior official told The Canadian Press, speaking on condition of anonymity in order to discuss the matter in advance of this week’s NATO meetings in Brussels.
“And the NATO calculation formula is also so cryptic and backwards.”
Following Brussels, Trudeau will jet to Taormina, Italy, for this year’s G7 gathering, before ending his foreign tour with a stop in Rome to meet Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni and the Pope.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is greeted by Belgium Prime Minister Charles Michel as he arrives in Brussels, Belgium, Wednesday to attend the NATO Summit.