EDITORS NOTE: This is part of a series of articles about the provincial election candidates in the Sarnia-Lambton riding.
Andy Bruziewicz can clearly remember the moment he decided he would come to Canada.
It has been a long journey from Pinczow, Poland, to Sarnia and being the candidate for the Trillium Party in the provincial election.
Bruziewicz family had already boarded the ship that would take them to Canada and his father’s new job at Imperial Oil.
Bruziewicz was just five at the time but remembers Polish officials boarding the ship and telling his father he couldn’t leave because he knew state secrets. He didn’t.
“It was an invitation to bribe. My father paid a big price but he refused to pay bribes…I admire him and his values but it was not very practical in many senses.”
Bruziewicz remembers crying and vowing some day to get to Canada. He got his chance when an elderly uncle living in Canada needed someone to take care of him. Bruziewicz – who was politically active already in Poland having been shot with a water cannon during a government protest – was ready to go.
He came to Canada October 15, 1974 and cared for the uncle until his death in 1984.
Bruziewicz considered returning home but by then, the political situation in his homeland had deteriorated. “In 1984, marshal law was at the worst so it was not very practical or very attractive of a position when they were keeping people in jail. Who knows, I could have ended up in jail too, for the sins of my past.”
He stayed but it wasn’t easy. He was threatened with deportation and only was able to stay through “a string of miracles.”
Former Sarnia Mayor Marcel Saddy became his legal advisor and introduced him to then Immigration Minister Bud Cullen who helped him stay in Canada.
Bruziewicz got an education at Western and then at Lambton College to become a chemical technician.
“I worked 60 hours-a-week at a fast food place and went to school. I was able to save money and pay my debt. I never got a penny of state assistance.”
When he graduated, Sarnia’s chemical industry was booming and Bruziewicz had his pick of jobs. Although it was the poorest financial offer, he accepted a position with Imperial Oil, the same place his father was to work so many years before.
Saddy remained Bruziewicz’s friend and soon introduced him to Liberal politics. As he came to love Canada and Ontario he worked with the Liberals. But he wouldn’t stay.
A friend at work was running for the federal Conservatives. Bruziewicz became a member and ended up campaigning for Ken James.
His attentions turned to the new Reform Party and Preston Manning – whom he loved. But then he met the NDP’s Jack Layton and they became fast friends. Bruziewicz would run for the NDP and for the first time bring the party to second place in the Sarnia-Lambton riding.
But today, Bruziewicz is enthralled with the Trillium Party which promises regular electors a chance to shape policy.
“In the Trillium Party, I think I finally found this whole concept of direct democracy. I represent Sarnia-Lambton in Toronto not Toronto in Sarnia-Lambton. That’s what appeals for me,” he says.
“The old parties, the way the operate, they have strategist write their platforms, and then it is given to the public to take it or leave it – is this one is better than that.
“I think the public should be involved in the policy making.”
And he’d like to be in on that saying the size of government has to be reduced.
Bruziewicz, if elected June 7, wants to propose a much smaller cabinet of between six and 12 ministries. There are 36 in Ontario now. Then he says, MPPs would be more directly involved in government.
“I find it actually exciting…I have people who call me on information, and I’m trying to get the feel for what the community wants.”