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U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) speaks during an election eve campaign event on Nov. 7, 2022 in Manchester, New Hampshire.SCOTT EISEN/Getty Images

A U.S. senator who attended the weekend’s Halifax security summit believes NATO should consider the resource commitment each country makes to the military alliance in selecting its next secretary general, amid media reports that Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland is one of the contenders.

By at least one measure, however, Canada falls short of the target for North Atlantic Treaty Organization members: the per cent of annual economic output it devotes to defence spending.

At the annual Halifax International Security Forum on Saturday, Democratic U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen said current Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has done a commendable job.

“I think that we need to look for someone who can provide that kind of leadership for NATO, during what will continue to be challenging times,” Ms. Shaheen said.

“I also think it’s important that we look at the commitment that those countries who participate in NATO make – both to the compact and to the resource requirements.”

She was among nine members of the U.S. Congress who spoke to media at the summit. Asked whether Ms. Freeland should fill NATO’s top civilian post, the American legislators said it was not their place to answer.

Ms. Shaheen also called for members to again commit to meet NATO’s target for countries to spend 2 per cent of their gross domestic product on defence spending.

“So I hope that will be something that everyone will recommit to – to ensure that they are providing the 2 per cent of GDP that NATO has asked of its members.”

She made no comment on Canada’s level of defence commitment.

Mr. Stoltenberg’s term expires next year and Ms. Freeland’s name has surfaced in media speculation, including in The New York Times, as a potential successor. Other contenders include Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas and former Croatian president Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic, according to news reports.

Ms. Grabar-Kitarovic, who also attended the weekend’s forum in Halifax, declined a request for comment.

NATO is a military alliance dedicated to the collective defence of its 30 members. In 2006, the defence ministers of members agreed to commit a minimum of 2 per cent of their GDP to defence spending to ensure the alliance’s readiness. In 2014, members renewed that commitment saying those falling short would “aim to move toward the 2 per cent guideline within a decade.”

Canada still falls short of the mark. For the fiscal 2022-2023 year, its military spending of $36.3-billion amounts to 1.33 per cent of GDP. This will improve based on budget commitments to $51-billion, or 1.59 per cent of GDP, in 2026-27, Ottawa’s Parliamentary Budget Officer said in June.

One problem Canada faces in defence spending is that chronic delays on capital procurement mean the Department of National Defence is repeatedly unable to spend all of the money it’s allocated each year.

Republican U.S. Senator James Risch told reporters Saturday “it isn’t our business to wade into” the selection process of the next secretary general. He added that Canadians are “like cousins, siblings” and that whoever assumes the role “is taking over an organization that is stronger than it’s ever been.”

Back in September, Ms. Freeland neither confirmed nor dismissed rumours that she was in the running for the NATO job.

“So, I have a really big job already. In fact, I have two big jobs as Finance Minister and Deputy Prime Minister of Canada,” she told reporters at the time.