Correspondence 

A significant part of my work as a political staff has been to draft correspondence which is reviewed and signed off by the Member of Parliament. Correspondence can be used to respond to concerned/interested constituents, to raise the concerns of constituents to Ministers, or to communicate with other MPs and stakeholders.



Examples of work that I have drafted included in this section:
1. Letter to Minister Sajjan raising a conern brought to our office’s attention.
2. Letter to Minister Hehr on behalf of a constituent.
3. Letter responding to a concerned citizen.
4. A successful letter writing campaign to encourage the inclusion of Ukraine in the 2017 Invictus Games.  

Letter to Minister Sajjan 

The Honourable Harjit Sajjan, P.C, M.P
Minister of National Defence
607 Confederation Building
House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario, K1A 0A6

November 10, 2016

Dear Minister,

It has been brought to my attention that as of September 1, 2016 Canadian soldiers deployed to Camp Arifjan in Kuwait are no longer entitled to a deployment tax break on their income. The most concerning factor is that soldiers were not made aware of this policy change before they signed on for this deployment. I am asking you to intervene and use your authority as the Minister of National Defence to reverse this policy change and ensure that all members of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) deployed overseas on the same missions are treated equitably when it comes to tax relief measures.

According to Finance Canada’s website (http://www.fin.gc.ca/access/tt-it/designated-missions-designees-eng.asp) Op IMPACT qualifies for the Tax Relief for Personnel Deployed on Designated International Operational Missions. This tax relief recognizes the contribution that CAF members and police officers make to international peace and stability while serving their country abroad. Eligible CAF members and police officers may claim a deduction against taxable income in regards to income earned while deployed on such missions. Op IMPACT (Kuwait) has been eligible for the tax relief since October 2014.

Relatives of Canadian Armed Forces members currently deployed to Kuwait informed me that the changed tax policy change only applies to Camp Arifjan, where 15 Canadians have been stationed. There are other service members completing the same tour dates, to the same country, on the same mission (Op IMPACT), that are receiving the originally designated tax relief. There are approximately 300 Canadians stationed just 40 kilometers away at Ali Al Salem Air Base in Kuwait who face identical risks and whose tax reliefs have not been affected.

When the 15 Canadians troops at Camp Arifjan tried to resubmit their paperwork, they were told that they were being assessed under new and different rules than those stationed elsewhere in Kuwait and were no longer entitled to the benefit.

The members of the Canadian Armed Forces expose themselves to significant risk on deployments. As a veteran of multiple deployments, you are aware of the toll that this can take on not only the soldiers but their families as well. These individuals and their families agreed to the deployment with the understanding that they would receive tax relief and compensation levels equivalent to other CAF members in the region. To change this policy while deployed or immediately prior to, is wrong and unfair.

Please have your department look into this disturbing matter. Our troops deserve to be remunerated fairly for the work they do and the risks they face. I am hopeful that this issue can be resolved and that all of our troops will be properly compensated for their service to our country.
Sincerely,

James Bezan, MP
Selkirk-Interlake-Eastman

CC: The Hon. Bill Morneau, P.C, M.P, Minister of Finance
Undisclosed recipients, including family members


Letter to Minister Hehr

June 15th, 2016

The Honourable Kent Hehr
Veterans Affairs Canada
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0P4

Dear Honourable Kent Hehr,

One of my constituents has brought to my attention the Royal Canadian Legion’s questionable practices.

Joan Beznoski is an 82-year-old who is is the daughter of a World War 1 and a World War 2 veteran. Her husband and two brothers served in the Korean War. She has joined the Royal Canadian Legion and has been at the same legion branch for 36 years in Lac du Bonnet, Manitoba. Now, she finds herself suspended from the legion.

Mrs. Beznoski is only guilty of phoning the main legion office in Ottawa to try to talk to dominion president Tom Eagles to voice her dissatisfaction about how the organization is treating former soldiers. She wanted the Dominion Command to conduct an investigation into ongoing problems in the Lac du Bonnet branch, including allegations of bullying and disrespectful behaviour against veterans.

I request that you evaluate the Royal Canadian Legion’s practices in the matter raised by this letter.
I also request that you potentially audit the federal funding going to the Royal Canadian Legion as there seems that financial management questions raised by the members of the Royal Canadian Legion are vigorously ignored by the Dominion Command.

I looking forward to your expedient attention to this matter and please inform me of any undertakings by your office.

Sincerely,

James Bezan, MP
Conservative National Defence Critic
Selkirk-Interlake-Eastman, Manitoba 


Correspondence to a Constituent

May 28, 2016

Dear Mr. Coleman,

Thank you for your correspondence on this issue. How elected officials spend public money is an important issue and I am glad you have raised it with me.

It is common practice for Members of Parliament to communicate with constituents on government initiatives. All Members from all parties in the House of Commons are permitted to send these mail outs including surveys. Let me assure you that when the Liberal and NDP parties send out their information, they express equally political opinions on the issues.

Contrasting ideas are an essential aspect of democracy. It is my sincere hope that you will respect my efforts to ensure the constituents of our riding are being informed on the activities of our party and those of the Liberal government, whether you agree or disagree with the substance in these mailers. I believe that the $52,000 that my office spends annually on mail outs to the over 93,000 people who live in Selkirk- Interlake-Eastman in over 41,000 households, are worth this expenditure. I also believe the taxpayers are getting value for their money at a cost of only approximately $1.50 per household per year.

I often receive thanks for keeping my constituents informed, seeking their input through the surveys and not forgetting about the people I represent. The high volume of responses returned to my office, proves to me that our mailers are productive.

It is also important to note that all material sent from our parliamentary offices have to be approved by Parliamentary Printing Services, meeting the guidelines laid out by the Ethnics Commissioner and Parliamentary all-party Board of Internal Economy who are also responsible for setting the restrictions and conditions of use. Over the 12 years that I have been a Member of Parliament, the rules have become much more stringent and have ended the practice of surveying based upon party preference; it has also put tough restrictions on mailings into opposition held ridings.

In regards to the advertising on billboards, they are actually owned by the Selkirk-Interlake-Eastman Conservative Electoral District Association. On the topic of cost, the only original expense of advertising was charged to my members operating budget, and have been very affordable when taken over the life of the sign.

Once again, thank you for your correspondence on this issue, and I hope I have been able to answer any questions you may have had.

Sincerely,

James Bezan, M.P
Selkirk-Interlake-Eastman


Sucessful Letter Writing Campaign to Include Ukraine in 2017 Invictus Games

April 20, 2016

His Excellency Andriy Shevchenko
Ambassador of Ukraine
Embassy of Ukraine
310 Somerset Street West
Ottawa, ON K2P 0J9

Colonel Ihor Likarenko
Defense, Military, Air and Naval Attaché
Embassy of Ukraine
310 Somerset Street West
Ottawa, ON K2P 0J9

Dear Ambassador Shevchenko and Colonel Likarenko,

In September 2017, Toronto will hold the Invictus Games. The Invictus Games celebrate the achievement of military personnel who have been wounded or suffered life changing illnesses while serving their countries, and were first held in London in 2014.

Prince Harry has made it his responsibility to advocate for the mental and physical rehabilitation of all soldiers and veterans, and the Invictus Games is one of his projects. The event aims to help soldiers and veterans become inspired to recover and rehabilitate after becoming ill or injured. It also aspires to help people gain a wider understanding and respect for those who serve in uniform.

I hope that the Government of Ukraine is considering participating in the Invicus Games in 2017. By doing so, Ukraine would increase public awareness of the plight in Eastern Ukraine from Russia’s hybrid war in the Donbas, and bring attention to the many wounded soldiers that have served, and are serving their country. Taking part in these games will allow Ukraine to show its support for wounded Ukrainian soldiers and advocate for their mental and physical rehabilitation, medical care, and financial support. It can also bring more attention to the impact of Russian aggression against Ukraine, its soldiers and its people.

I invite you to look into signing up for the Invictus Games in Toronto September 2017. Please contact those organizing the games at [email protected], and learn more at http://www.invictusgames2017.com/. Please let me know if there is anything I can do to assist you in this endeavor.

Sincerely,

James Bezan
Member of Parliament
Selkirk-Interlake-Eastman

June 23, 2016

The Right Honourable Justin Trudeau
P.C., M.P., Prime Minister of Canada
Langevin Block
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0A2

Dear Prime Minister,

In September 2017, Toronto will host the Invictus Games. The Invictus Games celebrate the achievement of military personnel who have been wounded or suffered life changing illnesses while serving their countries, and were first held in London in 2014.

Prince Harry has made it his primary mission to advocate for the mental and physical rehabilitation of all soldiers and veterans, and the Invictus Games is one of his projects. The event aims to help soldiers and veterans become inspired to recover and rehabilitate after becoming ill or injured. It also aspires to help people gain a wider understanding and respect for those who serve in uniform.

As Prime Minister, you have commended Canada`s `historic` friendship with Ukraine as one that has "forged through generations of shared values and strong relations." As the host country of the 2017 Invictus Games, and supporters of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Canada should formally extend an invitation to Ukraine. By inviting Ukraine to the 2017 Invictus Games, Canada and our participating allies would have the opportunity to both reaffirm our solidarity with the Ukrainian people, and celebrate the tremendous efforts of Ukrainian soldiers. In participating, Ukraine would increase public awareness of the plight in Eastern Ukraine from Russia’s hybrid war in the Donbas, and bring attention to the many wounded soldiers that have served, and are serving their country. Taking part in these games will allow Ukraine to show its support for wounded Ukrainian soldiers and advocate for their mental and physical rehabilitation, medical care, and financial support. It will also illustrate the impact of Russian aggression against Ukraine, its soldiers and its people.

Ukraine`s Ambassador to Canada, the Ukraine-Canada Coalition, the Ukrainian Sports Federation of Canada, Ukraine`s Ministry of Defence, and Ukraine`s

Ministry of Sport and Youth are just some of the many groups that have expressed enthusiasm about this opportunity, Moreover, multiple veterans` unions in Ukraine have offered to facilitate communication between the Invictus Games Committee, and the many veterans who have expressed interest in participating.

Ukraine has stood by its allies as a coalition member in both Afghanistan and Iraq. By participating in the Invictus games with these same allies, Ukrainian soldiers will be recognized for the great contributions that they have made in the name of peace and freedom. I ask you to include Ukraine`s participation in the 2017 Invictus Games in your agenda when you visit Ukraine in July, and to encourage the Ukrainian government to support this opportunity for its veterans and injured soldiers

If you have any questions or wish to discuss further, I am happy to do so.


Sincerely,

James Bezan, MP
Selkirk-Interlake-Eastman, Manitoba
CC: The Honourable Harjit Sajjan,
The Honourable Kent Hehr
The Honourable Stéphane Dion
The Honourable Carla Qualtrough

June 23, 2016

His Excellency Ambassador Washchuk
Ambassador of Canada to Ukraine
13A Kostelna Street
Kyiv 01901

Dear Ambassador,

In September 2017, Toronto will host the Invictus Games. The Invictus Games celebrate the achievement of military personnel who have been wounded or suffered life changing illnesses while serving their countries, and were first held in London in 2014.

Prince Harry has made it his primary mission to advocate for the mental and physical rehabilitation of all soldiers and veterans, and the Invictus Games is one of his projects. The event aims to help soldiers and veterans become inspired to recover and rehabilitate after becoming ill or injured. It also aspires to help people gain a wider understanding and respect for those who serve in uniform.

I am reaching out to ask if you would bring this opportunity to the attention of the Ukranian government, and discuss the possibility of their sponsoring a group of Ukrainian team. By participating, Ukraine would increase public awareness of the plight in Eastern Ukraine from Russia’s hybrid war in the Donbas, and bring attention to the many wounded soldiers that have served, and are serving their country. Taking part in these games will allow Ukraine to show its support for wounded Ukrainian soldiers and advocate for their mental and physical rehabilitation, medical care, and financial support. It will also illustrate the impact of Russian aggression against Ukraine, its soldiers and its people.

The Union of Veterans of the Anti-terrorist Operations is enthusiastic about this opportunity, and have offered to facilitate communication between the committee, and many veterans who have expressed interest in participating. In order for Ukraine`s participation to be a success, it is essential that together, with the help of the Invictus Committee, we promote this opportunity to the many groups that support former military personnel. Once they are able to

secure enough interested veterans, they will be able to work with them to select, organize, train and implement this project.

Ukraine has stood by its allies as a coalition member in both Afghanistan and Iraq. By participating in the Invictus games with these same allies, Ukrainian soldiers will be recognized for the great contributions that they have made in the name of peace and freedom. With you as an advocate, we hope to be able to raise awareness of the importance of Ukraine`s participation in the 2017 Invictus games, our appreciation for Ukranian soldiers, and ensure that they are able to attend.

If you have any questions or wish to discuss further, I am happy to do so.

Sincerely,


James Bezan, MP
Selkirk-Interlake-Eastman, Manitoba

July 12, 2016

Board of Directors
Invictus Games Toronto 2017
357 Bay Street, Suite 300
Toronto, Ontario, M5H 2T7

Dear Board of Directors,

Congratulations on being selected to host the 2017 Invictus Games. I am certain Toronto will be a gracious and welcoming city to all of the athletes, coaches, and fans. The Invictus games are an opportunity to highlight the many physical and mental injuries that soldiers, from around the world, acquired while defend their nations and our shared values.

As Invictus 2017 considers expanding its membership, I request that the Board of Directors extend the invitation to injured soldiers from Ukraine. Canada and Ukraine share a rich and deep connection through our many cultural, economic, political and military agreements.

By inviting Ukraine to the 2017 Invictus Games, Canada and our participating allies would have the opportunity to both reaffirm our solidarity with the people of Ukraine, and celebrate the tremendous efforts of Ukrainian soldiers. In participating, Ukraine would increase public awareness of the plight in Eastern Ukraine from Russian and bring attention to the many wounded soldiers that have served, and are serving their country. Taking part in these games will allow Ukraine to show its support for wounded Ukrainian soldiers and advocate for their mental and physical rehabilitation, medical care, and financial support. It will also illustrate the impact of Russian aggression against Ukraine, its soldiers and its people.

Support for this initiative from groups both in Ukraine and in Canada shows that Ukrainian veterans will be ready and able to compete. Furthermore, Canada is home to over 1.2 million Canadians of Ukrainian decent who would be both proud and excited to see their athletes compete in Toronto. As the host nation, welcoming Ukrainian soldiers to participate in these games would be another example of the strong bond that exists between Canada and Ukraine.

Ukraine has stood by its allies as a coalition member in both Afghanistan and Iraq. By participating in the Invictus games with these same allies, Ukrainian soldiers will be recognized for the great contributions that they have made in the name of peace and freedom.

Thank you for considering this request.

Sincerely,

James Bezan, MP
Selkirk-Interlake-Eastman 

July 20, 2016 

Borys Wrzesnewskyj, MP
Chair, Canada-Ukraine Parliamentary Friendship Group 
House of Commons 
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6

Dear Mr. Wrzesnewskyj,

In September 2017, Toronto will host the Invictus Games. The Invictus Games celebrate the achievement of military personnel who have been wounded or suffered life changing illnesses while serving their countries. In the last competition there were 16 nations, the Invictus games have decided to open the competition to one more nation in 2017.

Groups in Canada and in Ukraine have been working together to provide Ukrainian veterans with opportunity to compete in Toronto. Members from these groups, including a Ukrainian veteran will be meeting the members of the board of directors of the Toronto 2017 Invictus games in the coming weeks to pitch their application. As the host country of the 2017 Invictus Games, and supporters of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, The Canada-Ukraine Parliamentary Friendship Group (CUPFG) should formally support Ukraine’s application.

By inviting Ukraine to the 2017 Invictus Games, Canada and our participating allies would have the opportunity to both reaffirm our solidarity with the Ukrainian people, and celebrate the tremendous efforts of Ukrainian soldiers. In participating, Ukraine would increase public awareness of the plight in Eastern Ukraine from Russia’s hybrid war in the Donbas, and bring attention to the many wounded soldiers that have served, and are serving their country. Taking part in these games will allow Ukraine to show its support for wounded Ukrainian soldiers and advocate for their mental and physical rehabilitation, medical care, and financial support. It will also illustrate the impact of Russian aggression against Ukraine, its soldiers and its people.

Ukraine`s Ambassador to Canada, the Ukraine-Canada Coalition, the Ukrainian Sports Federation of Canada, Ukraine`s Ministry of Defence, and Ukraine`s Ministry of Sport and Youth are just some of the many groups that have expressed enthusiasm about this opportunity. Moreover, multiple veterans` unions in Ukraine have offered to facilitate communication between the Invictus Games Committee, and the many veterans who have expressed interest in participating.

Ukraine has stood by its allies as a coalition member in both Afghanistan and Iraq. By participating in the Invictus games with these same allies, Ukrainian soldiers will be recognized for the great contributions that they have made in the name of peace and freedom. As the Chair of the CUPFG, with approval of the executive, I am asking that your write a letter of support for Ukraine’s application to the Board of Directors of the Toronto 2017 Invictus games. Backing from the CUPFG will demonstrate support from all major political parties from nearly every region in Canada.
Thank you for considering this request. I look forward to reviewing a draft letter.

Sincerely,

James Bezan, MP
Selkirk-Interlake-Eastman 
Vice-Chair, Canada-Ukraine Parliamentary Friendship Group