The nation must pull its weight to beef up defence spending

Last month,  Lieutenant-General Pierre St-Amand, the deputy commander of the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), stated that the current American defence policy wouldn’t protect Canada from a missile attack. This should be a catalyst for Canada to increase funding to our own defence systems rather than solely relying on the military power of the United States. If the United States decides that defending Canada isn’t a priority, we’re lacking in our national defence.

The credibility of this statement is now being refuted—geographically this response would be irresponsible considering that many major Canadian cities are located within close proximity of the U.S. border. This means that nuclear fallout would likely hurt major American cities like Seattle, Chicago, Detroit. Still the question of whether Canada should step up to the plate remains.

Canada will not be able to rapidly catch up to the level of military investment of our neighbours to the south. However, we can start with making an adequate contribution to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), something that Canada has been failing to do for many years. Canada spent less than one per cent of its GDP on defence last year, one of the lowest rates of spending in NATO, and the United States currently compensates for member nations that fail to contribute, including Canada.

Last week the U.S. Senate approved a $700 billion investment in the country’s military. This investment will increase America’s debt, but while countries like Canada fail to foot their bill of NATO spending, it is a needed investment.

Developing the Canadian military and increasing NATO contributions will not mean following American strategies, in fact, quite the opposite—it means that Canada would no longer be wholly dependent on American military power. It is also a guarantee for a future Canada in a world where the U.S. may not be as powerful as it was before.

Being fiscally responsible is important, but the Canadian military is an investment sector that we have been purposefully ignoring for far too long, a state of affairs that needs to change.