James Bezan, Member of Parliament (MP) for Selkirk-Interlake, travelled to Ukraine this week to take part in the largest election observation mission assembled by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). This is the second time MP Bezan will act as an election observer in Ukraine.
OSCE Parliamentary Association (PA) Vice-President Walburga Habsburg Douglas, (Sweden MP) Special Co-ordinator for the short-term OSCE observer mission, has asked Mr. Bezan to be the regional co-ordinator of the OSCE PA team being deployed in the Chernivtsi oblast.
“Free and fair elections are essential for a healthy and vibrant democracy,” said Mr. Bezan. “It will be an encouraging step forward for the great country of Ukraine should it be able to conduct elections free of intimidation, fraud or voter suppression.”
Bezan will be coordinating the flow of information from election observers back to Ms. Habsburg Douglas and the team in Kyiv. Ms. Habsburg Douglas also appointed Mr. Bezan as a member of the OSCE PA Advisory Board for the Ukrainian election.
He is also acting as the team leader of the Canadian OSCE Parliamentary delegation, which consists of parliamentarians from all official parties in both the House of Commons and the Senate.
The Canadian delegation is part of more than 100 parliamentary observers from the OSCE PA, and more than 600 volunteer long term observers from the OSCE, all for the October 28 election.
Canadian parliamentarians will assist the OSCE in assessing the fairness of the elections and whether Ukraine will uphold its commitments to free elections as established in the 1990 Copenhagen Document.
A further 500 volunteer Canadian observers have also been deployed by CanDem, supported by the Government of Canada.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper addessed the CanDem group before their departure. Excerpts of the speech (received courtesy Irena Bell of the Ukrainian radio program in Ottawa, and the PMO) aired on the Nanaimo edition of Nash Holos this past Wednesday, and will also air on this weekend's Vancouver and international editions.
Audio files will be available at the Nash Holos website.