James Bezan was raised on a farm near Inglis, Manitoba and is a graduate of Olds College in Alberta. James 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.
Mr. Bezan was first elected to the House of Commons as a Conservative Member of Parliament on June 28th, 2004. With the support of his constituents, 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.
In Opposition, Mr. Bezan held the position of Associate Agriculture Critic. As a member of government he 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; and Chair of the Standing Committee on National Defence.
He has also been Chair of the Canadian Section of the Inter-Parliamentary Forum of the Americas (FIPA); Secretary and Vice President of the Canada-Ukraine Parliamentary Friendship Group; and in 2012 James co-founded the Canadian Parliamentarians for Democracy and Human Rights in Iran, which is an all party group.
On September 19, 2013, Mr. Bezan was appointed by Prime Minister Stephen Harper as the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence. 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 Armed Forces.
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. The Order of Prince Yaroslav the Wise was awarded to Mr. Bezan on a decree by the President of Ukraine as recognition for those who have made a historic contribution on behalf of Ukraine. Member of Parliament Bezan was presented the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2012.
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 the Crimea and Donbas regions of Ukraine by the Russian Federation, nor will it mute his strong support for the people of Ukraine and their democratically elected government.
Over his political career, Mr. Bezan has been very successful in influencing and creating legislation. In 2006, Mr. Bezan tabled Private Member’s Motion, M-309, Jonathan’s Bill, which sought to increase benefits for parents of critically ill children. This motion became law within Government Bill C-44 in 2012 which created 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, is a melanoma skin cancer survivor. James tabled Private Member’s Bills C-497 and C-386 in the 40th and 41st Parliaments, to strengthen warning labelling on tanning beds on the carcinogenic risks from radiation caused by tanning equipment. These Bills influenced the Government to put warning labels about the health risks of indoor tanning on tanning equipment in February 2013.
In 2013, Mr. Bezan tabled Bill C-478, The Respecting Families of Murdered and Brutalized Persons Act. This Bill seeks to extend the parole ineligibility period for those convicted of the abduction, sexual assault and murder of an individual. The Conservative Government’s proposed legislation, the Life Means Life Act, incorporates the spirit of Bill C-478.
Rural development, environmental protection and agriculture are also high on 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.