Ter­ror­ism at cen­tre stage as Trudeau heads to Europe for sum­mits

Cape Breton Post - - Canada -

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.

CP PHOTO

Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau is greeted by Bel­gium Prime Min­is­ter Charles Michel as he ar­rives in Brus­sels, Bel­gium, Wed­nes­day to at­tend the NATO Sum­mit.

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