Sep 02, 2014

By Scott Walker

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Leaders of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization will gather for a summit in Wales this week. They will discuss the growing threat by Russian forces in Ukraine.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper will represent Canada at the summit. They are expected to commit to a rapid-response military force that could be mobilized within 48 hours. It currently takes five days for NATO to respond with troops in a crisis.

Harper is going to be under pressure to increase Canada’s defense spending when he meets with his NATO counterparts.

Despite the Harper Government’s stated support of the military, Canada’s defense spending falls far short of the alliance benchmark of two per cent of GDP.

The US and Britain are the only member nations to meet the benchmark. France, Germany, Norway, and Italy are close.

Canada’s spending is about one per cent. Harper is likely to face pressure to do better, but his government is reducing its defense commitment by $2.7-billion next year as it struggles to balance the budget before the next federal election.

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