Canada to head new North Atlantic Treaty Organisation mission in Iraq

Patty Hajdu

Patty Hajdu

But despite its on-the-ground presence in North Atlantic Treaty Organisation missions like Latvia, Canada and other countries have faced USA pressure to meet the alliance's target of spending two per cent of GDP on defence and 20 per cent of defence budgets on equipment - targets member states agreed to at a summit in Wales in 2014.

Canada is expected to spend an estimated 1.23 per cent of its GDP on defence in 2018 - down from 1.36 per cent past year, says the annual report, which looks at military investments for all member states.

There's a big target, however, painted on Trudeau's back.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says his country is offering to lead NATO's new military training mission in Iraq for the first year and stands ready to provide 250 troops plus helicopters for the effort.

"Our first - and really our only consideration - was what served the Canadian national interest, what served Canadians, what was appropriate to do for Canada given our role in the world and the very great interest we, as Canadians, have in a functioning, rules-based global order", Freeland said.

"We certainly hope that Russian Federation will choose to become a more positive actor in world affairs than it has chosen to be in the past".

He wants them to earmark four per cent of their annual GDP for their defence budgets - double the current target of two per cent.

His message, of course, is that in Canada's case, the answer is yes. The government is also adding about 80 more soldiers, bringing the total to around 530.

"In order to trade we have to have safety", he said. On the other side, twenty-seven European allies. Canada is stepping up. "Two world wars and a Cold War taught us that we are stronger together than apart", he said, adding that the United States troop presence in Europe allows Washington to project military power into Asia, the Middle East, and Africa. "And I'm absolutely certain that this summit will show that we are able to deliver on security, on defence despite the disagreements we see on trade and other issues". And the $40-million cost of Canada's training efforts in Iraq will come from previously approved funds, one senior official said, speaking on condition of anonymity given the sensitivity of the talks.

- with reporting from Lee Berthiaume in Ottawa.

The decline is largely the result of two one-time expenses past year, said National Defence spokesman Daniel Le Bouthillier, one of which was a retroactive pay increase for service members that was included in the Liberal government's defence policy.