TORONTO – Canada's foreign minister said Tuesday that the country must spend more on its military now that the U.S. is questioning its role of global leadership.
Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland told Parliament that relying on the "the U.S. security umbrella would make us a client state."
She said Canada is committed to make a "substantial investment" in its military and said the defense minister would elaborate on that Wednesday.
Freeland said Canadians will always be grateful for the outsized role the U.S. has played in the world and Canada will seek to persuade Washington that its continued leadership is in the interest of the U.S. and the free world.
She didn't mention President Donald Trump by name but reiterated Canada's disappointment in Trump's decision to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement.
"Many of the voters in last year's presidential election cast their ballots, animated in part by a desire to shrug off the burden of world leadership," Freeland said. "The fact that our friend and ally has come to question the very worth of its mantle of global leadership, puts into sharper focus the need for the rest of us to set our own clear and sovereign course."
Freeland said Canada must do its fair share and dismissed those who are reluctant to spend billions on the military because Canada could "free ride on U.S. military power."
"To put it plainly: Canadian diplomacy and development sometimes require the backing of hard power," she said.
Freeland noted Canada's military contribution to Ukraine and said the atrocities of the Islamic State extremist group directly challenge both the sanctity of borders and the liberal international order. Canada has about 800 military personnel in the international anti-terror coalition but removed its fighter jets after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's Liberal government was elected in late 2015.
Canada has about 200 troops the Ukraine and 220 in Poland.