Letter to the Honourable Bill Blair, P.C., M.P., Minister of National Defence
On behalf of the Business Council of Canada (BCC) and our more than 170 members, please accept our congratulations on your appointment as Minister of National Defence. Canada’s business leaders are committed to working closely with government to protect the sovereignty and security of our great country.
To that end, we believe that Canada must honour its commitment to our NATO allies by ensuring that our total defence spending is equal to 2% of our GDP. This is a message which we have conveyed to your predecessor, Minister Anand, as well as Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland.
This is not a new position for the BCC. For more than 40 years, the BCC has consistently supported necessary investments in our national defence. As we wrote to Deputy Prime Minister Freeland before Budget 2022, we believe increased spending can be funded through government program spending reviews.
In considering where Canada should invest new defence spending, we would urge you to put greater emphasis on research and innovation. Your department can be leaders in bringing together industry and academia to discover breakthrough technologies that can later be commercialized by Canadian companies.
That is why the BCC supports Canada’s decision to host the North American regional office of NATO’s Defence Innovation Accelerator for the North Atlantic (DIANA). This new initiative can be a catalyst for industrial policy akin to what the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is in the U.S.
As we witnessed this week, the government’s failure to honour its NATO commitment has undermined our reputation in the eyes of our greatest ally, the United States. Senator Dan Sullivan of Alaska called Canada out during confirmation hearings for President Biden’s nominee to lead NORAD, Lt.-Gen. Greg Guillot.
It is not just in the United States, however, as I learned during a recent visit to Brussels to meet with European officials. There is a growing concern among EU countries that Canada is not as reliable or dependable an ally as we once were in the areas of national and energy security. Our policy direction must change.
Canada must do more to deliver on our commitments.
Yours very truly,
c.c. The Honourable Chrystia Freeland
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance
The Honourable Anita Anand
President of the Treasury Board
Mr. Bill Matthews
Deputy Minister of National Defence
February 12, 2024
February 5, 2024