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Hillman expects Biden to be less critical of defense spending ahead of visit

Canada’s ambassador to the US says US President Joe Biden may be less critical of Canada’s failure to meet its defense spending targets than the former president was Barack Obama when he addressed Parliament.

When Biden makes his first official state visit to Canada this week, discussions about defense and security, upgrading Norad and how to deal with Russia and China are on the agenda.

The last US president to visit Ottawa – and address Parliament – ​​was Obama in 2016, when in a 50-minute speech he said, “NATO needs more Canada.

Canada has long been called upon to increase defense spending to 2% of GDP, the target agreed by NATO members as part of the Wales summit declaration in 2014.

But Kirsten Hillman told CTV’s Question Period host Vassy Kapelos in an interview that aired Sunday that she expects Biden to “acknowledge” during his visit what the Canadian government is “doing.” well”: what he has done, what he does and what he is committed to spending.

“Does that mean they won’t push us to do more? I don’t know. We will see,” she said. “As I said, I think the United States is always eager for all partners to do everything they can.”

“I’m not saying that the United States wouldn’t always like to see Canada and all of its allies do more, because I think we’re not the only ones they often ask to do more,” said she also said. “They’re always interested in seeing all NATO allies do more, but there’s definitely been a change in my experience over the last two years because they’ve really seen us put some serious commitments on the table. “

Meanwhile, US Ambassador David Cohen told Kapelos – also in an interview broadcast on Sunday – that Canada had “strengthened” many of its spending commitments, including to Ukraine, and plans to modernize the Norad, so he “preferred to look at Canada driving and what it actually does, as opposed to any formula.

“But that doesn’t mean that (defense spending) won’t, and shouldn’t be, an ongoing topic of conversation,” he added. “Because we need more money for defence.”

“We are facing 21st century threats that require 21st century solutions and that require 21st century funding,” he also said.

Particularly on Norad, Cohen said, it’s likely the US delegation will seek details on when Canada’s commitments — such as the over-the-horizon radar systems it has promised to pay for — will be delivered.

“I think Norad has a perspective on the threat posture, which would require an earlier investment than the Canadians’ current plan,” he said.

Hillman said the “expenses are starting to roll in,” on upgrading the Norad, but the new systems will take time to install, as they are not something that can be bought “off the shelf.”

“As for the specifics of what will be rolled out, I think it’s too early for me to say,” she also said. “These are discussions that we are having internally to determine how we are going to handle this conversation with the Americans.”

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