Mr. Bezan was raised on a farm near Inglis, Manitoba and is a graduate of Olds College in Alberta. Mr. Bezan and his wife Kelly have three daughters; Cortney, Taylor, and Cassidy, and live on a farm by Teulon, Manitoba. Mr. Bezan is a member of the Teulon and District Lions Club and his family is active in their church. In addition to being a cattle producer, Mr. Bezan has held various positions in agri-businesses, as well as owning an export and consulting company.
On June 28th, 2004, Mr. Bezan was first elected to the House of Commons in the 38th Parliament as a Conservative Member of Parliament to represent the riding of Selkirk-Interlake. During his time in Opposition, Mr. Bezan held the positions of Associate Agriculture Critic and Executive Member of the Canada-Europe Parliamentary Association.
With the support of his constituents, Mr. Mr. Bezan was re-elected on January 23rd, 2006, October 14, 2008 and on May 2, 2011 to represent Selkirk-Interlake for four consecutive terms. Mr. Bezan is proud to be a member of the Conservative Government lead by Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
As a member of government Mr. 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.
In first session of the 41st Parliament, Mr. Bezan served as the Chair of the Standing Committee on National Defence, and was re-elected as the Secretary of the Canada-Ukraine Parliamentary Friendship Group and executive member for the Canadian Section of ParlAmericas. During the 41st Parliament, James founded the Canadian Parliamentarians for Democracy and Human Rights in Iran, which is an all party group. Member of Parliament Bezan was presented the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2012.
On September 19, 2013, Mr. 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.
In 2008, Mr. Bezan received one of Ukraine’s highest awards for his private member’s bill that recognized the Soviet-imposed Holodomor forced famine of 1932-1933 as an act of genocide against the Ukrainian people. Ukraine’s highest civilian award, the “Order of Prince Yaroslav the Wise” was awarded to Mr. Mr. 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.
For his work on numerous Ukrainian issues, Mr. Mr. Bezan has also received awards and recognitions from organizations in Ukraine, and from Canada’s Ukrainian community, such as the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Kyiv, Kyiv City Organization of the All Ukrainian Memorial Society of Vasyl Styus, Ukrainian Canadian Congress, Canadian Friends of Ukraine, The Ukrainian Professional and Business Club of Winnipeg, the League of Ukrainian Canadians and the League of Ukrainian Canadian Women.
For his outspoken opposition to the Russian invasion of Crimea in early 2014, Mr. Bezan was sanctioned by Russia, along with 12 other Canadians. He has called this sanction a badge of honour, and has stated that it will not silence his criticisms of the illegal military invasion and occupation of Crimea by the Russian Federation, nor will it mute his strong support for the people of Ukraine and their transitional government.
Over his political career, Mr. Bezan has been very successful in influencing and creating legislation. In the 38th Canadian Parliament, Mr. Bezan tabled Motion, M-309 which sought to increase benefits for parents of critically ill children. 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.
Mr. Bezan’s wife Kelly has survived melanoma skin cancer on a number of occasions. Mr. 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.
In the 41st Canadian Parliament, Mr. Bezan introduced two pieces of legislation. The first was Tanning Equipment Prohibition and Warning (Cancer Risks) Act (Bill C-386). This Bill influenced Government to put warning labels about the health risks of indoor tanning on tanning equipment in February 2013. In February 2013, Mr. 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. It passed 2nd Reading on June 5, 2013 and was to be studied at the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights in September 2013. With his appointment to the position of Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defense, this Bill had to be taken off of the order paper. Another Member of the House of Commons has been working to re-introduce the Bill.
Mr. Bezan is a strong supporter of our armed forces and is proud of the brave men and women who have served, and who are currently serving, in the Canadian Forces. Rural development, environmental protection and agriculture are also high on Mr. Mr. Bezan’ list and he has consistently been an advocate for sustainable rural development and meeting the needs of our agriculture producers. As a longtime and outspoken opponent of the long-gun registry, Mr. Bezan was pleased when the registry was ended. He has also been instrumental in securing over $35 million in funding for the Lake Winnipeg Basin Initiative in Budgets 2007 and 2012.
Throughout his time in Parliament, Mr. 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. Mr. Bezan travelled with Prime Minister Harper to the Ukraine in 2010 and has served as an election monitor in the last two Ukrainian elections. Mr. Bezan was also appointed a special envoy by Prime Minister Stephen Harper to accompany Minister Baird to Ukraine in early 2014. Mr. Bezan lobbied fiercely to have the Iranian embassy shut down and have the MeK delisted as a terrorist organization. Both of these actions by Mr. Bezan were positively acted upon by the Government of Canada during the 41st Canadian Parliament.