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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.
 

Navy_Pete

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I'll join your consulting team.

there is no such thing as a benevolent dictator.
No, that's true, but really just thinking of someone in a position of authority that was more worried about getting specific things accomplished than a news soundbite or shares & likes. Harper really set the tone by driving the entire government from the PMO, so definitely doable. Don't agree with a lot of it, but there was never any doubt about where the decisions were made or who had what marching orders. Right now it's a herd of bureacratic cats doing whatever they think is best from their particular departmental perspective, vice a singular vision aligning all of that to what actually achieves the government strategic goals, and the primary concern of the kids in short pants is PR, not effectiveness.

The funny thing is that we've already gone to integrated teams at the working level with PSCP embedded in DND and vice versa, but it splits off back into departmental reporting above that, and all kinds of random departments have input at high levels, so lots of opportunities to spike the wheels and add delays. Nothing like being second guessed by someone who doesn't really understand what you do, but took a two day course so is going to tell you what theoretical best practices are, based on the project description which isn't accurate, because someone from PSPC changed what the project manager wrote so it 'sounded better'.
 

daftandbarmy

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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...

Isn't one of the reasons they touted for putting Annand 'The Queen of Pandemic Procurement' in the MND's chair was to fix defence procurement?
 

Humphrey Bogart

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LMAO, a global pandemic and the largest war in Europe since WW2 and people think this Government will still fund the Armed Forces?

It's the same song and dance every year, I wouldn't get my hopes up.
 

Furniture

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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...
Churn is definitely one of the problems we face, on top of everything else.

A friend of mine at a HQ in Ottawa has had a new director every year for the last three. Nothing moves forward, because by the time the one in the chair is up to speed they are handing over to another person so that new person gets their "tick in a box" for promotion/advancement.
 

suffolkowner

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CAF leadership has never owned responsibility for their own choices. Look at the growth in bloat under CDS Vance while the forces continued to shed operational capabilities. I have a bad feeling you could double the budget and not add one extra fighter jet, truck....

From what I have read smaller purchases under $5M seem to stumble along eventhough they still take too long. The bigger projects just take up too much time and resources right now when we have exhausted our grace period
 

FormerHorseGuard

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I have always thought for simple things like trucks, Canada should buy the exact same truck as the USA is buying because we could tag a few trucks on to the order and Canada could save a pile of cash. Bigger orders come with cheaper per unit price. Air craft and ships, a lot of countries are building a navy, Canada is looking at some of the exact same ships, 2 or 3 NATO countries come together and get a NATO ship that would have common parts and common supply chain so parts are available at most NATO ports if required. Save huge money. Just because we can build a ship in Canada does not mean we should if it means we can buy them faster and get them to sea faster then going thru the make it Canadian policy. Some of the work could be done here, but not everything has to be done here. Weapons we need to start getting the same ones as used by the rest of NATO, so common training, supply and ammo can be readily accessed world wide as supply runs out when required. Canadian only items like uniforms and Arctic equipment should be Canadian made as we know better what is needed and have companies here who make great winter clothing , just get it in army green colours. I worked up North and the Hospital Evac team all worn Canada Goose, bright red or orange so it would stand out on the snow if there was accident and easy to spot. We can get it in army green , air force blue etc.

But instead the Buyers and TB, the Brass want to study it and restudy it over and over till it is out of date and requires a full rebuild and redesign. Takes years to buy a simple bolt action rifle for the Rangers, even longer to buy a side arm. Trucks are purchased but are not combat ready as they are not built for it. There has to be a new truck to replace the temporary truck purchase. Money wasted. Off the shelf helicopters, then made to look like military grade, made a Canadian Company in Quebec happy they got the deal. Navy helicopters delivered years late and no one seems concerned. Just put more money in the hands of the company to build them. If they Canada does purchase something worth while, they buy in small orders, and wait for it to rust out, break down and wear out from use before consider replacements. Spend too much time being the first one to buy and get hosed in the repairs and defects department.

If they decide to change how they spend money, and increase the budget, they need to learn how to spend it on timely programs and make the programs deliver in a timely matter. Put the cash on the table and get the best equipment possible for the job. One time purchases and then equipment being scrapped or retired has to stop.

Just my opinions
 

FJAG

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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 the risk of this being the 237th time I've gone this route on this forum I tend to side with @dapaterson on this.

Whatever the indifference of this government and this particular leader, the one thing you have to admit is that defence spending actually went up under them both in dollars and as a GDP percentage. My problem has always been that for various reasons the investment that Canadian governments make in defence never result in moving the goal posts forward in defence outputs.

While I think poor political direction, and even interference, has a lot to do with that, I tend to put a large part of the blame on a bureaucratic system, both civilian and military, that results in a lot of unnecessary churn that defeats the best of intentions of any one particular individual. I keep whining about the ResF system needing a top to bottom overhaul. That's not the only thing that does. But you're absolutely right. The lack of strong political oversight and accountability is allowing the military to wither on the vine ... a very expensive vine.

🍻
 

Good2Golf

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Integration of the military and civil staffs years before integrating of the three services formed a large part of precisely what you describe, FJAG.
 

suffolkowner

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An alternative view of the Russia-Ukraine war might suggest that there is no need for large reinvestments in our National Defence capabilities considering how poorly Russia has shown in that endeavour
 

MilEME09

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Let's face it, we the CAF are broken, we have admitted it too, atleast internally. However we lack the tools and the leadership to do more then band aid solutions. Bloat, red tape, botched procurement the issues go on and on, but we are better at playing shell games then fixing problems.
 

MarkOttawa

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Meanwhile the Aussies, concerned about PRC not Russia--will anyone dare tell PM Trudeau what they're doing? Unlike Canada big defence spending seems good electoral politics down under. Different strokes for...but still pork galore:

Australia to invest $38B to surge troop strength by 30 percent


"In their last three years in Government, Labor cut Defence spending by 10.5 per cent in real terms," while the current government says "Our Government has increased investment in defence to more than two per cent of GDP."​


SYDNEY: In a decision that has been in the making for some time, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Defense Minister Peter Dutton announced a huge increase Wednesday to the island state’s force structure.

Morrison said in a press release that “we need a bigger ADF with more soldiers, sailors and airmen and women to operate the cutting-edge capabilities we’re getting to protect Australia.”

The uniformed military, currently 60,000 strong, will see an increase of 18,500 troops by 2040. The ministry estimates the cost will be at least $38 billion over the period of 2024-40.

“This growth in workforce and expertise will enable us to deliver our nuclear powered submarines, ships, aircraft and advanced weapons. It will mean we can build warfighting capabilities in the domains of space, and information and cyber,” Defense Minister Peter Dutton said in the release. “It will also build the resilience we need in critical areas and enable our people to increase intelligence, information and communications capacity.”

Much of the growth is likely to come for troops — “diggers,” in local parlance — trained for space, nuclear sub and cyber duty, but a press release says the growth “will be even higher when workforce requirements for the nuclear-powered submarines are finalised.”

Industry sources here have flagged the need for a significant growth in troops trained as space specialists to cope with the substantial increase in ground stations, launch and satellites expected over the next 15 years

The timing of the release is interesting and there are clear indications from the press release that it is closely tied to the upcoming federal election, where Morrison’s Liberal Party is fighting off a challenge from the opposition Labor Party. The release notes the review was launched as part of the 2020 Force Structure Plan, which committed Australia to a range of new weapons and capabilities, and the main decisions were approved on November 17 last year.

The release notes that: “the Labor Party’s “defense spending as a share of GDP dropped to 1.56 per cent in the 2012-13 Budget – the lowest level of funding since 1938. In their last three years in Government, Labor cut Defence spending by 10.5 per cent in real terms. Our Government has increased investment in defence to more than two per cent of GDP.”

It points out that “ADF personnel will be increased in every state and territory (emphasis added), with a particular focus on capabilities associated with our trilateral security partnership between Australia, United Kingdom and United States (AUKUS), as well as air, sea, land, space and cyber.” The release also notes that “a majority of the growth” will occur in Queensland, New South Wales, South Australia and Western Australia...

Mark
Ottawa
 

dimsum

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Meanwhile the Aussies, concerned about PRC not Russia--will anyone dare tell PM Trudeau what they're doing? Unlike Canada big defence spending seems good electoral politics down under. Different strokes for...but still pork galore:
For context, they have a centre-right govt which has been the most hawkish in decades, and they have an election in a few months.
 

FSTO

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Okay, I'll admit my bias by stating that our current PM is pretty vacuous at the best of times. But this magical mystery tour has to be one of the most empty of realism I've ever seen. The breathless voice, the non answers, the empty statements. Admittedly the the Ukrainian President is staring death in the face every day but when you put our lad against Zelenskyy the lack of sand in our hero is quite stark.
 

suffolkowner

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For context, they have a centre-right govt which has been the most hawkish in decades, and they have an election in a few months.
The election down under should be interesting with respect to the submarine issue. Continuity is imperative if the Aussies have any hope at succeeding there. The proposed new Eastern submarine base should add some spice
Okay, I'll admit my bias by stating that our current PM is pretty vacuous at the best of times. But this magical mystery tour has to be one of the most empty of realism I've ever seen. The breathless voice, the non answers, the empty statements. Admittedly the the Ukrainian President is staring death in the face every day but when you put our lad against Zelenskyy the lack of sand in our hero is quite stark.

Same old same old with Trudeau lots of talk and posing but very little substance. Maybe if trialed by fire he would stand out as well but I look at the lack of real response with regard to our own defence priorities as damming. What moves to secure our own nationality has he even broached? None as far as I know. We sit on our hands on the fighter replacement. I mean we lie our way to whatever measly GDP percentage we are currently at by including non CAF expenditures like the CCG when the CCG has very little constabulary ability. That being taken up mostly by our Kingston Class. Even from a non kinetic standpoint you think we could be helping out with the refugee situation in Poland unless they dont want or need it but I find that hard to believe
 

Good2Golf

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One can’t be seen as a true leader of a nation if one ‘leads’ by seeing how his Millenial-staffed Star Chamber reacts to his friend Nick Nanos’ latest polls and going from there…
 
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