Trudeau to mark NATO’s birthday amid questions about military alliance’s future


OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau flies to London today to celebrate the 70th birthday of the NATO military alliance, which is facing questions and uncertainty about how to deal with Russia, China — as well as its own internal divisions.

NATO was established by North American and Western European countries at the start of the Cold War as a check against the Soviet Union and has been one of the cornerstones of Canada’s security, protection and influence in the world for decades.

But the alliance faces a slew of challenges, starting with uncertainty about Donald Trump’s commitment to it, due in part to the U.S. president’s frustration at some allies for not spending more on their own defence.

Canada falls into that category and while Trudeau will be defending the alliance over the next few days, he is also expected to face pressure to step up Canadian military spending, which remains far short of NATO’s agreed upon target.

China is also set to figure prominently during the discussions as the Asian dragon becomes more assertive in its neighbourhood and around the world — and because of U.S. demands that Canada and others ban Huawei from its 5G networks.

The alliance is also at odds over the best way to deal with Russia, with some members suggesting more dialogue even as others such as Canada take a hard line with it over its actions in Ukraine and elsewhere.