Trudeau heads to NATO summit to discuss next steps as bloodshed in Ukraine continues
The Liberals' accord with the New Democrats could set up a clash over defence spending
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau departs this evening for an emergency meeting with NATO leaders gathering in Brussels to take stock of the war in Ukraine and plan the alliance's next steps.
The overseas trip comes in the immediate wake of a deal that will see New Democrats support the Liberal government on confidence votes in the House of Commons for the next three years, forestalling an early election.
The war in eastern Europe has prompted several NATO allies, notably Germany, to publicly commit to increased defence spending — something that the NDP opposes in Canada.
Speaking earlier on Tuesday, Trudeau said there are some matters on which the government and its new political partners are going to disagree.
"This agreement is about working together constructively in the areas where there is agreement. And in the areas where there is not agreement, we will continue to do the things that the Liberal Party was elected to do and will look for support from other parties as necessary as we move forward," the prime minister said.
WATCH: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau discusses agreement with NDP
NATO Sec. Gen. Jens Stoltenberg said after a recent meeting of alliance defence ministers that the alliance expects member nations to spend "a minimum of two per cent" of their gross domestic product on defence. Canada currently spends 1.39 per cent of its GDP on the military.
Many have speculated that the upcoming federal budget will propose an increase in defence spending beyond what the Liberals committed to in their 2017 defence policy document. Trudeau and his ministers have not committed publicly to boosting the defence budget.
Blanchet: 'Canada is ... a Peewee player'
Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly said Tuesday the government has a lot to consider.
"The world has changed since February 24, the date of the invasion by Russia [of] Ukraine," Joly said. "Germany decided to take a very important decision by increasing their military spending, and we take stock of that."
Bloc Quebecois Leader Yves-François Blanchet said he's reserving judgment on the new "Liberal-NDP government" before deciding whether an increase in defence spending is something his party would endorse.
"In terms of military power, Canada is at best a Peewee player," he said, adding that it's clear the country has responsibilities it needs to fulfil.
While in Europe, Trudeau will also address the European parliament — which has been weighing further sanctions against Moscow and trying to figure out how the continent can wean itself off Russian oil and natural gas.
He also will attend a G7 heads of state meeting where "leaders will discuss the current situation in Ukraine and its wider global impacts, including food security and energy supply," according to a statement from the Prime Minister's Office.