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Richter: The Canada-U.S. dispute on NATO funding – It’s complicated

Canada is still a very long way off from reaching its NATO spending target of two per cent of GDP, and there are many reasons to suspect that it will not happen anytime soon, if ever.


Updated: December 12, 2019

This grab made from a video shows Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte (L), French President Emmanuel Macron (front), British Prime Minister Boris Johnson (R) and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at a Buckingham Palace reception mocking US President Donald Trump's lengthy media appearances ahead of the NATO summit on December 3, 2019 in London. 


The recent NATO summit threatened, briefly, to bring Canada-U.S. relations to a historic low, but it appears the worst was avoided. And yet, the fallout of President Donald Trump’s obvious frustration with Canada over defence spending, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s unhappiness with the unpredictability of the mercurial U.S. leader, point to warning signs that cannot be easily forgotten.


On the issue of NATO and defence spending, as much as Canadians would prefer not to think about it, the president is largely correct; Canada is indeed “slightly delinquent,” although observers could be forgiven if they prefer to use a stronger adjective (“enormously” comes to mind).  So, in the interest of accuracy, let’s review the numbers.

As recently as the 2014 NATO summit, Canada agreed to re-commit to the alliance spending target of two per cent of GDP, although the Canadian delegation (along with Germany’s) tried to water the commitment down. At the time, Canadian defence spending was a shade under one per cent of GDP, so getting to two was widely acknowledged to be an enormous challenge that required immediate action.

On the issue of NATO and defence spending, as much as Canadians would prefer not to think about it, the president is largely correct,

Over the course of the last seven years, defence spending has largely flatlined. Two additional points need to be made, however. The first is that defence spending in 2019 will come in at about 1.3 per cent of GDP, suggesting that some progress has been made. That, unfortunately, is not the case. A few years ago, the Canadian government announced changes in how defence spending was to be calculated (which would henceforth include expenses such as the Coast Guard and peacekeeping), and it is this accounting change that explains the seemingly impressive increase. Were it not for this modification, spending would still be around one per cent.

And as for the prime minister’s awkward response at his press conference with the president, at which, after being pressed by Trump on how much Canada specifically spends on defence, Trudeau said that “the number we talk about is [a] 70 per cent increase over these past few years” – well, that statement requires some unpacking. The 70 per cent figure comes from the government’s 2017 Defence White Paper, which did indeed promise a significant increase in defence spending over the next decade, up to an anticipated total of $32.7 billion in 2027 (up from about $18 billion in 2017).

But the reality is that the vast majority of the spending increases are to come in the later years of the plan, specifically years six to 10 (which corresponds to between 2023 and 2027). As a result, many observers are extremely skeptical that such increases will ever happen, for the simple reason that it is extraordinarily difficult to make spending promises so far in advance, not to mention the likelihood that by that time a different government may be in power with different spending priorities. Simply stated, if the government were truly committed to increasing defence spending, then it could have started such increases immediately.

The net result is that Canada is still a very long way off from reaching the NATO target, and there are many reasons to suspect that it will not happen anytime soon, if ever.

And as for the prime minister’s evident frustration with Trump, it is hard to even know where to begin. The relationship between the two leaders got off to a rocky start back when they first met in February 2017 – when it was clear that Trump’s attitude towards immigrants and asylum-seekers differed fundamentally from that of the prime minster – but it went off the rails in June 2018, when the president called Trudeau “dishonest and weak” after the prime minister said in a press conference that Canada “will not be pushed around” by the U.S. in trade negotiations.

The relationship then endured several months of very difficult NAFTA talks – which seemed on the verge of collapse several times – before the negotiations ended in a new trade agreement last November, with signoff in Mexico City this week. Things seemed to be returning to relative calm until the NATO meeting’s extraordinary developments, which ended with Trump calling Trudeau “two-faced” over the prime minister’s stumbling answer on defence spending, and Trudeau being caught on an open mic apparently making fun of the President’s penchant for holding press conferences that go on for as long as he feels like talking (a slight that at least benefits from being true).

All told, these are odd days for the Canada-U.S. relationship. The Liberal government has largely managed Trump’s temper and erratic nature quite well, and while there have been some missteps, they have generally been small and not particularly damaging.  But the president is nothing if not unpredictable, and the pressure will stay on our federal government for the duration of his presidency, which could last for an additional five years. Trudeau had better have all hands on deck.

Andrew Richter is an Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Windsor.


MA Candidate Jesse Antwi-Kusi was recently awarded the 2019-2020 University of Windsor Community Scholarship for African Students.  The award is intended to advance knowledge and contribute to the educational, social, cultural, and economic development of the people of Africa.  The Department of Political Science congratulates Jesse for his achievement.


The President's Indigenous Peoples

Scholars Panel

Friday, March 8, 2019

 12 pm - 1 pm - CAW Student Centre Commons



The Department of Political Science is pleased to sponsor:

The Return of Resource Nationalism in Southern Africa

This event will take place on Thursday, March 21, 2019

2:00 pm to 4:00 pm, Dillon Hall, Room 355




The Health Research Centre for the Study of Violence against Women is pleased to present 

"After #MeToo:  Evaluating Canada's Strategy to Combat Violence against Women in Politics" with Dr. Tracey Raney

March 7, 2019, 11:30 am to 1 pm, Toldo, Room 203

Light Refreshments will be provided





Guest Lecture by Senator Donna Dasko

Guest Speaker - The Honorable Donna Dasko - February 12, 2019 at 10:00 am in Toldo, Room 203


Donna Dasko is a respected national pollster, media commentator, sociologist, and private sector business leader with considerable public policy experience.  She holds a Doctor of Philosophy from the University of Toronto. 

As a community volunteer, she served in many roles including President of St. Stephen’s Community House, Director of the United Way of Greater Toronto, Governor of the Canadian Unity Council (devoted to Canadian unity and federalism), Chair of the national CEO Roundtable for the Alzheimer Society, and Advisor to GreenPac (which promotes environmental leadership). 

Dr. Dasko’s passion for the promotion of women in politics has guided much of her advocacy. 

She is currently a Senior Fellow at the University of Toronto’s School of Public Policy and Governance.  Before her appointment to the Senate, she taught in the Master’s program.


Film about Windsor feminist activist Pat Noonan (October 3, 2018)

Poster for the documentary film What a Feminist Sounds Like

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” Dr. Seuss, “The Lorax” Pat Noonan–Rebel, Nun, Ex-Nun, Activist, Feminist, Environmentalist, Pacifist, Born and raised in Windsor, Ontario–died on August 11, at the age of 87, leaving a marvelous legacy of friends and political contributions in our community. "This is What a Feminist Sounds Like" chronicles the many lives of the charismatic, passionate, tireless advocate, Pat Noonan. Pat Noonan grew up in the city of Windsor. She got her start fighting inequality and defending the victims of cruelty, prejudice, and indifference in grade school. Inspired by the social justice aims introduced at her Catholic high school to Observe-Judge-Act, Pat became a nun for 23 years. A tireless and active crusader for women, the environment, peace, harm reduction, workers, and her hometown, Pat Noonan’s compassion, talent, and energy were boundless. She was a brilliant, path-breaking, and fearless advocate. Forged-in-Windsor, Pat affected so many in this city and beyond with her immense love, humanity, and energy. Pat Noonan is an example of how a life can be lived fully and with a fierce and deep commitment to the rights of others; this is her story.

We celebrate Patsy Noonan's life by screening the 2013 film, "This is What a Feminist Sounds Like," in which Windsor film makers Kim Nelson and Audra Macintyre exquisitely captured her story. Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2018, at 7:00 pm at the Capitol Theatre.

To benefit women film students: To honour Patsy, we're asking for a $10 donation or pay-what-you-can to help establish a bursary for women in film at the University of Windsor. We're looking forward to an evening of stories/reminiscing about our extraordinary and (in)famous friend. Hope to see you then! 

Dr. Radoslav Dimitrov speaks on "The Paris Agreement on Climate Change" (October 1, 2018)

Dr. Radoslav Dimitrov

The 2018-2019 Distinguished Speakers Series on Global Environmental Governance is pleased to host Dr. Radoslav Dimitroc who is Associate Professor at the University of Western Ontaio and European Union Delegate to the UN Climate Change Negotiations. His guest lecture on the Paris Agreement and climste change will take place in room 203 of the Toldo Building at 10:00 AM on October 1st, 2018. This series is sponsored by the Department of Political Science and the Great Lakes Institute for Environmental Research. All are welcome.

Dr. Cheryl Collier's edited volume The Politics of Ontario is nominated for the Ontario Speaker’s Book Award (March 20, 2018)

Dr. Cheryl Collier accepting her award

The Politics of Ontario, a volume edited by Dr. Cheryl Collier and Dr. Jonathan Malloy from Carleton University, was nominated for Legislative Assembly of Ontario Speaker’s Book Award. This award “recognizes works by Ontario authors reflecting the diverse culture and rich history of the province and of its residents.”

Ontario is the most populous of Canada's provinces, contains the country's largest city, and continues to be the centre of finance, IT, and media. It is also experiencing significant changes and upheavals. The Politics of Ontario is the first comprehensive book on Ontario's politics, government, and public policy since Graham White's The Government and Politics of Ontario in 1997. Although The Politics of Ontario follows in the same tradition, it departs in several ways. While not losing sight of the enduring themes of Ontario politics and political culture, it reflects the fact that Ontario is no longer Canada's primary economic engine. Instead of emphasizing the continuity and gradual evolution of Ontario politics, it focuses on change, disruption, and the uncertainty of the political and policy environment through explorations of fiscal and economic policy, the environment, labour, multiculturalism, and the complexities of urbanization, with particular attention given to greater Toronto. The book is divided into four parts: Settings, Institutions, Politics, and Policy. It contains 28 charts, tables, and graphs, and features contributions by virtually all of the leading scholars in the field, including an introductory chapter by Graham White.

Master’s students honoured for their scholarly achievements (March 16, 2018)

First year Master’s degree students Alanna Foulon and Kamaldeep Mann both receive the A.R. & E.G. Ferriss Award valued at $1000 and the Stephen & Vicki Adams Scholarship in Graduate Studies valued at $500. The Department of Political science congratulates them for their scholarly achievements!

Dr. Ovadia Receives SSHRC Connection Grant (2017)

Dr. Jesse Salah Ovadia

Dr. Ovadia’s SSHRC Connection Grant will be used for a workshop called “Mobilizing Canadian Knowledge on Natural Resource-Based Development in Africa” and follow-up knowledge sharing activities.  Dr. Ovadia is the Principal Investigator for the project, which also includes two Co-Investigators, Dr. J. Andrew Grant and Dr. Nathan Andrews, both from Queen’s University.  This workshop will take place at the University of Windsor on September 8, 2017. It will include contributions from four senior scholars, 25 academics non-academic practitioners from Engineers Without Borders and the Diamond Development Initiative.  More information to follow.

Dr. Cheryl Collier and Dr. Jonathan Malloy Launch The Politics of Ontario (2017)

Dr. Cheryl Collier and Dr. Jon Malloy holding a book.

Dr. Cheryl Collier and Dr. Jonathan Malloy attend the official book launch of their new edited book "The Politics of Ontario", University of Toronto Press, which launched at Queen's Park in Toronto on May 17, 2017.

Wide Range of Enthusiasms Earns Notice for Graduand (2017)

Logan Carmichael

Logan Carmichael sitting down outside

Logan Carmichael’s record of community service, campus engagement and academic achievement have earned her the 2017 President’s Medal.

Working on a research project with professor Jamey Essex inspired Logan Carmichael to set a new course for her career. As she prepares for her graduation from the University of Windsor, the political science major plans to pursue a life in diplomacy.

Carmichael will collect the 2017 President’s Medal during Friday’s 10 a.m. session of Convocation. The award recognizes a graduand who has made significant contributions to campus and community activities while maintaining a superior academic record.

Carmichael coupled classroom success — culminating in this year’s Board of Governors medal for top standing among graduates of political science — with achievement across a number of fields.

A middle-distance runner for the Lancer track program, she was named an academic all-Canadian in 2014 and 2015. She has worked with the Annual Giving Program phonathon throughout her UWindsor career, and mentored several first-year students through the Connecting4Success program.

Her philanthropic activities include planning benefit dinners to sponsor refugee families through Project Syria, and founding the charity Knit One, Purl One, Give One, which donates knitted goods to the needy.

“Over two years, we have donated well over 100 pieces — mittens, hats, and scarves,” Carmichael says. “I am so excited that we have people committed to taking it over for next year.”

An additional project that she describes as “a work in progress” is Another Mile Sneakers, which seeks to pass on gently-used athletic footwear to aspiring athletes in needy countries.

“As a Lancer runner, I could go through a pair of shoes every two months,” she says.

Still, she describes her experience with Dr. Essex as the best of her time at UWindsor. An academic appointment as an Outstanding Scholar grew into a term as a research assistant on a project exploring the 2013 creation of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada.

Seeing the resulting paper published in the Canadian Geographer was “very exciting,” says Carmichael, and nurtured her enthusiasm for Canada’s foreign service.

She is currently waiting to learn whether she will receive a scholarship to pursue graduate study at the Russian International Olympic University in Sochi, allowing her to combine her interests in sports, diplomacy and Eastern Europe.

Whatever the future holds, she will continue to rely on her primary support system: her family.

“My mom and my brother — they are in my corner no matter what!” Carmichael says.

Don Meredith Should Have Quit a Long Time Ago (2017)

Tiffany Gooch

Tiffany Gooch is a political strategist at public affairs firms Enterprise and Ensight, secretary of the Ontario Liberal Party Executive Council, and an advocate for increased cultural and gender diversity in Canadian politics.

In February, the Black Business and Professional Association (BBPA) invited me to host its Black History Month event in Toronto, awarding political leaders from the black community.

I was honoured. I am a fifth-generation black Canadian from Windsor – the descendent of a resilient people who sought their freedom through the Underground Railroad, settling and building vibrant communities in southwestern Ontario.

As an artist and a political strategist now living in Toronto, this event was a combination of my favourite things: the celebration of black excellence and a recounting of progress, with a call to action for increased co-ordination and political power within our community.

Related: Disgraced Senator Don Meredith to resign

I was ecstatic to have an opportunity to encourage more black Canadians to join our growing political movement. My heart sank when I learned that one of the award recipients for the BBPA event was Don Meredith.

A week before the event, I worked alongside black leaders from across Canada to hold a lobbying day on Parliament Hill. We met with more than 60 members of Parliament and talked about everything – policing, border security, corrections, economic development, education, health equity, immigration and diversity in public appointments.

We discussed the exposure of anti-black racism in the United States in recent events. We explained that our Canadian institutions and communities are not immune. We applauded the Liberal government’s commitment to multiculturalism, Indigenous reconciliation, refugees and women’s issues, and noted that general diversity and inclusion policies are, at times, inadequate in addressing the unique challenges faced by African-Canadians.

Defence of Don Meredith on the basis of race is a disservice to the tireless work being carried out by Canadians across the country combatting anti-black racism. His actions were indefensible. His is not an issue of race.

With his family present and hundreds in the live audience, I struggled to follow my script. I remembered my grandmother’s advice: If I didn’t have anything nice to say I shouldn’t say anything at all. Unable to carry out my function in good conscience, I sat down and asked the president of the BBPA to take over the program and returned to the stage after the awards were distributed.

There are thousands of remarkable black Canadians – women and men – who would excel at carrying out the functions of a senator without abusing their power. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has an embarrassment of options to ensure black Canadians are represented in future Senate appointments.

Just after the BBPA event, I moderated a panel at the Equal Voice ‘Daughters of the Vote’ conference in Ottawa. The topic of our panel was “Finding Courage”. We laughed, we cried, and we shared stories carrying out constructive dialogue about the barriers facing young women in politics and how to overcome them. Sexual harassment, sexual assault, and a culture that protects powerful men over girls became prevalent in our discussions over the course of the week.

It is difficult enough for young women – and young women of colour in particular – to enter and navigate political spaces. The future of our country depends on our ability to cultivate a culture of safety and inclusion for young women entering and navigating the Canadian political arena.

Protecting girls (and black girls in particular) seeking to bring their talents to politics greatly outweighs the need to protect black men in leadership who prove themselves unfit.

Don Meredith needed to resign. He should have resigned a long time ago.

It’s not enough just to believe it. It’s not enough just to tweet about it.

I hope Canadians will take up our collective responsibility to our children. We need to roll up our sleeves and do the difficult work necessary to eradicate this kind of behaviour (and the culture that perpetuates it) within our political institutions.

Chilean Experience Enhances University Education for International Relations Student (2017)

Arianne Rodriguez Saltron in Chile

Arianne Rodriguez Saltron revels in her experience while on exchange in Chile.

The support she received both in preparing for her exchange and once she arrived in Chile made for a smooth experience, says Arianne Rodriguez Saltron. A student of international relations with a minor in Spanish, she spent a semester at the Universidad de Santiago de Chile, and calls it the best decision she ever made.

“Living in Chile definitely improved my Spanish fluency,” she says. “And the campus is in the heart of (the Chilean capital) Santiago, so there are always cultural events happening, many museums to visit and so many cool neighborhoods to discover.”

Rodriguez Saltron says she felt well-supported both by the UWindsor exchange office and her Chilean hosts.

“The exchange staff at both universities are helpful and attentive, making sure that you are not thrown in the dark and answering any questions you may have along the way,” she says.

Faculty were accommodating and her courses in history and comparative politics gave her a broader perspective on world affairs. She even had opportunities to travel through the region.

In short, says Rodriguez Saltron: “Living in Chile was amazing!”

The University of Windsor has joined the Canadian Bureau for International Education’s (CBIE) Learning Beyond Borders initiative to get more Canadian students to take advantage of learning experiences in other countries. Despite reports from the students on the transformational nature of the experience, only about 3 per cent of Canadian undergraduate university students opt for international exchange.

“Arianne’s experience reflects that of most our students who go on exchange,” says Ryan Flannagan, associate vice-president, student experience. “Spending time abroad contributes to their academic and career achievements and enhances their communication skills, self-awareness and adaptability.”

He says the University aims to increase exchange participation in its students by 30 per cent over the next two years.

Find more information on the national campaign to inspire learning abroad on the CBIE website.