MP Bezan Returns from Prime Minister’s Trip to Ukraine and other European Nations
MP James Bezan, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence (Selkirk-Interlake) has returned from accompanying Prime Minister Stephen Harper on his trip to visit Ukraine, Poland and the Vatican.
During the visit, the Prime Minister and PS Bezan met with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, and reaffirmed that Canada would continue to stand with Ukraine against Russian aggression and support Ukraine’s economic and democratic reforms. PS Bezan also met with a delegation of Ukrainian MPs to discuss these issues.
While in Kyiv, PS Bezan also visited the Police Academy of the Ministry of Interior and watched Prime Minister Harper announce new projects to advance democracy and help reform the country’s security sector. Under these initiatives, Canada will help the country build a new civilian patrol police force through activities focused on community policing, in-service training, public outreach and engagement, and providing the new force members with uniforms and equipment. Canada will also deploy up to ten Canadian police officers to train this new police force as well as provide strategic guidance to other security institutions.
While in Poland, the Prime Minister and PS Bezan met with Prime Minister Ewa Kopacz, and President-elect Andrzej Duda. PS Bezan also met with Governor Stachurski of Gdansk, and discussions focused on regional security – in particular on Russia’s ongoing aggression in Ukraine – and ways to strengthen the already deep ties between the two countries.
Prime Minister Harper and PS Bezan also took the opportunity to pay tribute to the sacrifices made by Polish and Canadian citizens who fought side by side during World War II by participating in a wreath laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
PS Bezan also toured the European Solidarity Centre, WWII warship ORP Blyskawica which fought alongside the HMCS Haida, the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews, and toured the Polish Emigration Museum.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper and PS Bezan also visited the crew of Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS) Fredericton, which is currently assigned to a North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Standing Naval Maritime Group patrolling the Baltic Sea as part of NATO assurance measures to promote security and stability in Central and Eastern Europe.
While visiting the Vatican, PS Bezan also had the opportunity to meet His Holiness Pope Francis.
During the meeting between Prime Minister Harper and Pope Francis, they discussed ways of strengthening relations between Canada and the Holy See with a particular emphasis on working together to defend religious freedom around the world. To this end, they discussed the importance of advocating on behalf of Christians and other religious minorities currently under threat in the Middle East, Eastern Ukraine, Crimea and Africa. Prime Minister Harper also drew attention to the letter sent by Bernard Valcourt, Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development, to the Holy See regarding the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
Prime Minister Harper was also accompanied by Minister Kenney (Poland and Italy), Minister Fantino (Italy), Senator Andreychuk (Ukraine), and MP Opitz and MP Lizon were delegates for the entire mission.