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James Bezan

James Bezan
Bezan in 2014
Member of the Canadian Parliament
for Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman
Assumed office
October 19, 2015
Preceded by Riding Created
Member of the Canadian Parliament
for Selkirk—Interlake
In office
June 28, 2004 – October 19, 2015
Preceded by Howard Hilstrom
Succeeded by Riding Abolished
Chair of the Standing Committee on
National Defence
In office
21 June 2011 – 28 October 2013
Minister Peter Mackay
Preceded by Maxime Bernier
Succeeded by Peter Kent
Chair of the Standing Committee on
The Environment
In office
3 February 2009 – 20 June 2011
Minister Peter Kent
Preceded by Bob Mills
Succeeded by Mark Warawa
Chair of the Standing Committee on
In office
2 February 2007 – 2 February 2009
Minister Chuck Strahl
Gerry Ritz
Preceded by Gerry Ritz
Succeeded by Larry Miller
Personal details
Born (1965-05-19) May 19, 1965
Russell, Manitoba
Political party Conservative
Spouse(s) Kelly Murray Bezan
Residence Teulon, Manitoba
Profession cattle rancher, international sales, crop adjuster
Religion Baptist

James Bezan (born May 19, 1965 in Russell, Manitoba) is a Canadian politician. In 2004, he was elected to the Canadian House of Commons as a Conservative.


  • Personal life 1
  • Political career 2
    • Elections Canada dispute 2.1
  • References 3
  • External links 4

Personal life

Bezan attended Olds College in Alberta where he majored in livestock technology in the Agricultural Production program.[1] Bezan worked in the livestock and cattle industries in the 1980s and 1990s, and started his own company in 1996. He served as Chief Executive Officer of the Manitoba Cattle Producer's Association, and has sat on numerous boards in the fields of cattle and food production. He also operates a family farm near Teulon, Manitoba.[2]

Political career

The Canadian federal election of 2004 was Bezan's first venture into politics. He was elected in the riding of Selkirk—Interlake. He took about 47% of the vote, enough to defeat his Liberal and NDP rivals. Bezan is the only Canadian MP to ever have been challenged by a former Governor-General, the Rt. Hon. Ed Schreyer, but successfully defeated him in 2006. Schreyer lost to Bezan, receiving 37% of the vote to Bezan's 49% [3][4] Support for Bezan has increased during every election. After being successfully re-elcted in 2006 and 2008, he reached the highest level of support during the Canadian federal election of 2011. He secured 65.2% of the vote.

In opposition, Bezan served on the executive of the Canada-Europe Parliamentary Association, and as the Conservative Associate Agriculture Critic.[5] Since 2006 as a member of government, Bezan has served as Chair of the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food; Chair of the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development; Chair of the Manitoba Conservative Caucus; Chair of the Canadian Section of the Inter-Parliamentary Forum of the Americas (FIPA); and Secretary of the Canada-Ukraine Parliamentary Friendship Group.[6][6][7][8][9][10]

In first session of the 41st Parliament, Bezan served as the Chair of the Standing Committee on National Defence, and was elected as the Vice President of the Canada-Ukraine Parliamentary Friendship Group and executive member for the Canadian Section of ParlAmericas.[11][12] During the 41st Parliament, Bezan founded and co-chairs the Canadian Parliamentarians for Democracy and Human Rights in Iran, which is an all-party group.[13]

On September 19, 2013, Bezan was appointed by Prime Minister Stephen Harper as the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence. He began the 2nd session of the 41st Parliament with this role.[14]

Over his political career, Bezan has been very successful in influencing and creating legislation. In the 38th Canadian Parliament, Bezan tabled Motion, M-309 which sought to increase benefits for parents of critically ill children.[15] This motion became law within Government Bill C-44 in 2012 which proposes a new Employment Insurance (EI) special benefit for parents who take time off work to care for their critically ill or injured children.

In the 39th Canadian Parliament, Bezan passed Private Member’s Bill, C-459, An Act to establish a Ukrainian Famine and Genocide ("Holodomor") Memorial Day and to recognize the Ukrainian Famine of 1932-33 as an act of genocide.[16] This Bill established the Ukrainian Famine and Genocide (“Holodomor”) Memorial Day and recognizes the Ukrainian Famine of 1932-33 as an act of genocide. Ukraine's highest civilian award, the “Order of Prince Yaroslav the Wise” was awarded to Bezan on the basis of a decree by the President of Ukraine as recognition for the people who have made a historic contribution on behalf of Ukraine.[6]

Bezan's wife Kelly has survived melanoma skin cancer an a number of occasions.[17] Bezan, who also used artificial tanning equipment, tabled a Private Member's Bill, C-497 in the 40th Canadian Parliament, to strengthen warning labelling on tanning beds on the carcinogenic risks from radiation caused by tanning equipment.[18]

In the 41st Canadian Parliament, Bezan introduced two pieces of legislation. The first was Tanning Equipment Prohibition and Warning (Cancer Risks) Act (Bill C-386). This Bill influenced the Government to put warning labels about the health risks of indoor tanning on tanning equipment in February 2013.[19] In February 2013, Bezan tabled Bill C-478, The Respecting Families of Murdered and Brutalized Persons Act. This Bill seeks to extend the parole eligibility period for those convicted of the abduction, sexual assault and murder of an individual.[20]

Bezan has been noted for being an advocate for marketing choice for Western Canadian grain farmers and fishermen. As a longtime and outspoken opponent of the long-gun registry, Bezan was pleased when the registry was ended. Bezan has also been instrumental in securing over $35 million in funding for the Lake Winnipeg Basin Initiative in Budgets 2007 and 2012.[21][22]

Throughout his time in Parliament, Bezan has also acted, and continues to act, as an influential voice in the Canadian federal government on Ukrainian and Iranian human rights and democracy issues.[23][24] Bezan travelled with Prime Minister Harper to the Ukraine in 2010 and has served as an election monitor in the last two Ukrainian elections.[25][26] Bezan lobbied fiercely to have the Iranian embassy shut down and have the MeK delisted as a terrorist organization.[27] Both of these actions by Bezan were positively acted upon by the Government of Canada during the 41st Canadian Parliament.

Bezan was one of thirteen Canadians banned from traveling to Russia under retaliatory sanctions imposed by Russian President Vladimir Putin in March 2014.[28] He replied through his official Twitter feed, "Sanctions by Russia will not silence me standing up for Ukraine. This is a badge of honour for all critics of the Crimea Invasion."[28]

Elections Canada dispute

Bezan and Elections Canada had a dispute over his 2011 election return. Elections Canada argued that he had neglected to properly claim the cost of advertising signage he erected while MP, but which remained up during the 2011 election. Bezan believed that he has not broken any law and was in compliance with the Canada Elections Act.

The Speaker of the House of Commons received a request from Elections Canada to suspend Bezan as an MP in June 2013 over the issue. The Speaker made a ruling on June 18, 2013, in response to a question of privilege, to have the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs (PROC) review this issue.[29] On February 5, 2014, Bezan was let off the hook by Elections Canada when they came to an agreement on a corrected campaign return. In a statement on his website, he said: "I am pleased to say that Elections Canada has agreed with the commercial value of my MP signs I submitted in my corrected campaign return on May 5, 2013 at $518 per sign. My final campaign return for the 2011 election is below the allowable election expense limit, and my personal contributions are also below the allowable limit. As a matter of fact, the total difference between my corrected return filed on May 5, 2013 and my final return is only $458."[30]


  1. ^ Special Coverage 2011 Election
  2. ^ Steinbach Online "Gov't Package Coming For Beef Producers"
  3. ^ CBC News "Mulcair endorsed by former governor general Ed Schreyer"
  4. ^ "Former GG Schreyer to run for NDP"
  5. ^ I Channel #FAQMP I Channel #FAQMP "You ask, we listen, they answer."
  6. ^ a b c I Channel #FAQMP I Channel #FAQMP "You ask, we listen, they answer"
  7. ^ I Channel
  8. ^ Interlake Today "Bezan named chair of environment committee"
  9. ^ Portage Online "New Chair For Manitoba Conservative Caucus"
  11. ^ Brigg, Hayley. Interlake Today. "Bezan named Chair of National Defence Committee"
  12. ^ Ukrainian Canadian Congress "UCC Congratulates New Chair of CUPFG – Ted Opitz, M.P."
  13. ^ National Post "Irwin Cotler and James Bezan: Putting names to Iran’s persecuted voices of dissent"
  14. ^ Winnipeg Free Press
  15. ^ Ledwich, Sean. Stonewall Tribune "Bezan takes Teulon boy's story to Ottawa"
  16. ^ Mosher, Jim. Enterprise News "Bezan recognized for efforts on behalf of Ukrainian-Canadians"
  17. ^ Capital News Online "Debate heats up on tanning bed use for minors"
  18. ^ Robbins, Heather. Interlake Today "Bezan lauds Canadian Medical Association tanning resolutions"
  19. ^ Interlake Today "Bezan Denounces Tanning Beds in Honour of World Cancer Day"
  20. ^ Interlake Today "Bezan's Bill Up for Debate"
  21. ^ Water Canada "Deadline Extension for Lake Winnipeg Stewardship Fund"
  22. ^ Forrest, Michael. Sun News "Harper pledges to save Lake Winnipeg"
  23. ^ National Post "Irwin Cotler and James Bezan: Putting names to Iran’s persecuted voices of dissent"
  24. ^ Nash Holos "Canadian MP speaks out against Ukrainian government's recent attack on Tymoshenko"
  25. ^ Interlake Today "Bezan overseeing Ukraine Election"
  26. ^ Interlake Today "MP Bezan visits ukraine with prime minister harper"
  27. ^ Interlake Today "Bezan supports terrorist list changes"
  28. ^ a b Susana Mas (March 24, 2013). "'"Russian sanctions against Canadians a 'badge of honour. CBC News. Retrieved March 24, 2014. 
  29. ^ Horgan, Colin (2013). "Speaker Scheer boots Bezan and Glover's fate into PROC's hands". Retrieved June 18, 2013. 

External links

  • Official site
  • How'd They Vote?: James Bezan's voting history and quotes
  • James Bezan – Parliament of Canada biography
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