“I have a really big job already. In fact, I have two big jobs—as finance minister and deputy prime minister of Canada—and I am really, really focused on those,” Freeland responded when questioned by reporters on the NATO position.
Speaking from the Liberals’ cabinet retreat in Vancouver on Sept. 7, Freeland said she and her colleagues are focused on getting through the current economic challenges and to “capitalize on what I believe are the tremendous opportunities ahead of our country.”
Freeland has international experience having held the cabinet portfolios of international trade and foreign affairs.
She also currently serves with a globally-focused organization, having been appointed to the board of trustees of the World Economic Forum in 2019.
NATO’s core raison d’être is to constitute a bulwark against Russia and Freeland has been a hawk on the issue. She has played a key role in coordinating with allies the sanctions imposed on Moscow after its invasion of Ukraine.
CBC reported on Sept. 7 that Freeland’s named has been “tossed around” for months in international defence and security circles as a potential successor to the current NATO secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg.
CBC said the Trans-Atlantic organization seems to be leaning toward choosing a woman as its next leader, with Freeland being one among other female candidates.
Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly also skirted around the question when asked by reporters at the Vancouver retreat whether Freeland was interested in the NATO post.
“You got your answer,” she said of Freeland’s previous response.
“I always want to see Canadians in leadership positions around the world, that’s always great. At the same time, I think you asked directly the question to the deputy minister, and she answered your question.”
Current secretary general Stoltenberg took the helm in 2014 and his term was extended by a year in March.
Stoltenberg, Norway’ former prime minister, is due to step down in September 2023.
“The question of the leadership of NATO isn’t up for grabs right now,” said Joly, who said there is “no real conversation” right now on the issue of the successor.
Canada’s current defence spending of 1.36 percent of GDP is below the NATO target of 2 percent.
A North American politician has never held the top NATO post. Previous secretary generals were from Denmark, Holland, and the United Kingdom.