VANCOUVER — The federal defence minister says Canada's commitment to NATO remains unwavering after comments on the campaign trail from U.S. president-elect Donald Trump put the future of the military alliance into question.
Harjit Sajjan said on Friday he wants to reassure Canadian allies that the federal government will do its part to support the decades-old defence institution, which he says continues to play a significant role in safeguarding global security.
Trump has said that under his presidency the United States wouldn't necessarily come to the defence of a NATO ally under attack, which is one of the treaty's cornerstone tenets. He has yet to clarify his position since winning Tuesday's election.
Sajjan said Canada and the United States enjoy a close relationship, which he doesn't expect to change under the new administration.
Harjit Sajjan speaks during question period in the House of Commons, Nov. 4, 2016. (Photo: Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)
"We have a solid relationship, a wonderful history from our past, and that's going to continue moving forward, especially when it comes to our defence relationship," he said.
"I have an absolutely wonderful working relationship with the current Secretary of Defence Ash Carter and I look forward to working with the new secretary of defence as well."
The minister, who is a veteran, made his comments to reporters after attending a Remembrance Day ceremony in downtown Vancouver.
Thousands turned up under grey skies to take part in the annual commemoration of Canadian soldiers, living and dead, and their sacrifices for the country.
"We have a solid relationship, a wonderful history from our past, and that's going to continue moving forward, especially when it comes to our defence relationship."
Sajjan said he has attended the Vancouver ceremony numerous times in the past as a member of the B.C. regiment, but Friday was his first time doing so as minister of defence.
It is even more poignant, given the responsibility of the position, he said.
"I've always said our men and women in uniform serve Canada. My job is to serve them," said Sajjan.
"Today is also a day of reflection for all the men and women who have served throughout the years, whether it's been in peacetime or in war. Their sacrifice allows us to have the wonderful life that we have in Canada."