Minister Blair meets with U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III

May 13, 2024 – Washington, D.C. – National Defence / Canadian Armed Forces

Today, the Honourable Bill Blair, Minister of National Defence, met with United States Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III at the Pentagon.

Minister Blair and Secretary Austin discussed Canada’s renewed vision for defence, Our North, Strong and Free, which was unveiled by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Minister Blair on April 8, 2024. Minister Blair highlighted that this defence policy update prioritizes the security of the Arctic and the North, which are becoming increasingly accessible and facing new security challenges. Minister Blair noted that the policy invests in key new capabilities for the defence of Canada and North America, and that it will invest $8.1 billion over five years and $73 billion over 20 years. Canada forecasts its defence spending to reach 1.76% of GDP in 2029-30.

Minister Blair and Secretary Austin also discussed NORAD Modernization efforts. Minister Blair provided an update on the implementation of Canada’s NORAD Modernization Plan, which was released in 2022 and is backed by an investment of approximately $38 billion. This is Canada’s largest investment in NORAD in a generation, and this funding package will enable the construction of new Arctic and Polar Over-the-Horizon Radar Systems that will provide early warning radar coverage.

The two counterparts also discussed Russia’s ongoing attacks on Ukrainian cities, towns, and critical infrastructure and resolved to continue providing Ukraine with the military assistance that it needs to defend itself. Minister Blair thanked Secretary Austin for his leadership of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group, in which Canada has participated since its establishment in 2022. Minister Blair noted that Canada has committed over $14 billion in total support to Ukraine, including $4 billion in military assistance – and continues to train Ukrainian personnel under Operation UNIFIER.

As we approach the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Summit in Washington, D.C. in July 2024, Minister Blair provided an update on Canada’s increased contributions to NATO – noting that Canada is more than doubling its military presence on Operation REASSURANCE to up to 2,200 persistently deployed troops by 2026.

As Allies scale up defence production, the integration of the Canadian and American defence industrial base is becoming increasingly crucial to our shared security. Minister Blair and Secretary Austin discussed the importance of maintaining and advancing this integration in the years to come. 

Minister Blair and Secretary Austin also discussed how Canadian and American armed forces members are working together to promote the rules-based international order in the Indo-Pacific region – and looked forward to continued collaboration in this regard.

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