Brewing battle over future of NATO creates minefield for Canada

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OTTAWA — There are fears a brewing battle over the future of NATO could have major implications for Canada, which has relied on the military alliance as a cornerstone of its security, protection and influence in the world for decades.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is expected to travel to London next month where comments by French President Emmanuel Macron questioning the viability of NATO threaten to overshadow a celebration of the alliance’s 70th birthday.

Macron warned in an interview with the Economist magazine that the alliance suffers from a lack of U.S. leadership, and that Europe must stop relying on American guarantees of protection and prepare to defend itself.

Robert Baines, president of the NATO Association of Canada, says he is concerned about the alliance’s future, adding its dissolution would weaken this country’s links to other western democracies and leave Canada reliant on the U.S. for security.

Defence analyst David Perry of the Canadian Global Affairs Institute says NATO represents an important “counterweight” to what would otherwise be a lopsided Canada-U.S. defence relationship.

Baines and Perry suggest Canada is well-placed to bring Washington and Europe together, and that saving the organization should be a priority.

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