United States President Barack Obama, speaking before Parliament last night, urged Canada to take a greater role in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
The U.S. president’s address to Parliament was full of praises for Canada and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, but Obama also sounded out a friendly reminder that its neighbour to the north that it needs to “contribute its full share” to the military alliance.
“As your ally and as your friend, let me say that we’ll be more secure when every NATO member, including Canada, contributes its full share to our common security because the Canadian Armed Forces are really good,” Obama said. “If I can borrow a phrase, the world needs more Canada. NATO needs more Canada. We need you. We need you.”
Obama was in Ottawa together with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto for the 2016 North American Leaders’ Summit during which the three leaders discussed aligning policies on matters such as climate change, energy, trade, and security.
Before calling for greater NATO involvement from Canada, Obama spoke about nations that “violate international rules and norms, such as Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, the United States and Canada stand united, along with our allies, in defence of our collective security.”
Canada has made a commitment to contribute at least two per cent of its gross domestic product (GDP) to NATO. However, the country currently spends less than one per cent of its GDP on defence.
Within the principle of common funding, all 28 members of the alliance contribute according to an agreed cost-share formula. Common funding arrangements are used to finance the organization’s principal budgets for running its headquarters, the cost of integrated command structure and its military capabilities, according to NATO.
Many of the NATO countries do not meet the two per cent target, according to the World Bank, however, the U.S. contributes 3.5 per cent.
A press release from the Office of the Prime Minister said that Trudeau, Pena Nieto, and Obama have made progress in the area of trilateral defence cooperation since the second meeting of North American defence ministers in 2014.
“Moving forward, all three countries are committed to enhancing our common understanding of these threats to develop effective, coordinated and efficient approaches to address them. We will work together to expand trilateral defence cooperation, counter transnational crime and drugs, reduce the risk of disasters, refine border security, and strengthen the foundation of United Nations peace operations,” according to the release.
The three countries are working together to strengthen hemispheric defence institutions like the Conference of Defense Ministers of the Americas and the Inter-American Defense Board. They are also identifying more opportunities to synchronize defence activities in the region. Exercises have also been held to explore the efficiency of military support for civilian-led humanitarian assistance and disaster relief activities.