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Before heading to Washington on May 15 for talks with U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis, Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan confirmed that Canada’s long-awaited Defence Policy Review will be unveiled June 7. That will be two weeks after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau attends a NATO summit in Brussels, not before as was stated May 7 by Transport Minister Marc Garneau.
Sajjan confirmed not only the release date but also that Canada has been “working with our allies” on policy development, a situation he told reporters was standard operating procedure.
“We’ve discussed the input into our Defence Policy Review–I’ve said that many times–as Canada has input into our allies’ defence policy,” he said. “Multilateralism is very important to have input into our Defence Policy Review as we did the consultation, and that’s what good allies do.”
As for the delay, Sajjan suggested June 7 had been the proposed release date all along despite Garneau’s unequivocal statement that the review would be made public “before the Prime Minister heads to NATO” May 24.
Sajjan said the government had to accommodate a broader policy speech that Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland has been scheduled to deliver after the summit. One of Sajjan’s aides said the government wants to “nestle” defence policy within the foreign policy.
Sajjan also said that in addition to consulting the U.S., Canada had reached out to its other partners in the so-called Five Eyes intelligence-sharing alliance–Britain, Australia and New Zealand–to see how they reviewed defence policy.
“We took their recommendations, many of them, and incorporating that into ours where we actually added the industry consultation as well, and that’s what good partners do,” he said, adding that the focus of the review is “making sure that we have all the necessary tools and resources for our troops to be able to support Canada, our very important commitment which is NORAD as well, and also our responsibility in the world.”