Harper defends defence budget against NATO criticism

By on September 4, 2014

Prime Minister Stephen Harper announces that he will not attend the 2013 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Sri Lanka. Photo courtesy of Harper's official Facebook page.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Photo courtesy of Harper’s official Facebook page.

LONDON — Prime Minister Stephen Harper says people should be talking about what Canada has contributed to international military missions and not necessarily how much the country spends on defence.

His government is under pressure from allies, notably the U.S. and Britain, to boost the defence budget in light of the ongoing crisis in Ukraine and the rising threat in Syria and Iraq posed by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant.

He says the West cannot afford to sit still in the face of the naked brutality shown by the Islamist insurgents.

Harper says the murder of U.S. journalist Steven Sotloff is just the tip of the iceberg and ordinary people are suffering the same fate in regions controlled by the extremists.

Despite the crisis, he says Canada will continue to be frugal in its defence spending.

The federal government earmarks about one per cent of the country’s gross domestic product on the military, which is about half what NATO expects.