Frank Bruseker preaches activism in accepting honorary membership
Alberta’s political sphere has undergone a “seismic shift” and teachers need to help shape the province by encouraging their MLAs to exercise moral courage.
This was the message shared by former president Frank Bruseker at the Annual Representative Assembly on May 18 while accepting an honorary membership in the Alberta Teachers’ Association.
In his acceptance speech, Bruseker noted that the core values behind teachers’ code of professional conduct are the same values that make for a successful elected official: honesty, respect, responsibility, fairness and compassion. These values can be summed up as moral courage, which helps leaders determine what is important and guides them in their decision making, Bruseker said.
“I’d suggest that these five values are important for teachers, obviously … but they’re important for MLAs, cabinet ministers and they’re important for premiers,” Bruseker said.
With many in the UCP government being new to the role of MLA, Brusker called on ARA delegates to meet with their local MLA.
“At the end of this ARA, new resolutions will come out in the Members’ Handbook, and those are the statements that we as a profession collectively hold together … so the members of the legislative assembly should be looking at our Members’ Handbook.”
“At the end of this ARA, new resolutions will come out in the Members’ Handbook, and those are the statements that we as a profession collectively hold together… so the members of the legislative assembly should be looking at our Members’ Handbook.”
— Honorary membership recipient
‘Ferocious’ and ‘relentless’
Bruseker was one of two recipients of an honorary membership, which the ATA bestows annually on someone who has made a significant contribution to the practice of teaching and public education in Alberta. The other honorary membership was awarded posthumously to Alexandra Jurisic, former member of Provincial Executive Council, who died in March 2018.
Before presenting Bruseker with the award, ATA vice-president Jenny Regal described him as “ferocious” and “relentless.” She noted Bruseker’s long history of advocacy on behalf of teachers, (and all Albertans), in his roles as MLA, member of Provincial Executive Council and three terms as ATA president.
An MLA from 1989 to 1997, Bruseker was known as a fierce critic of then premier Ralph Klein. In 1997, after losing his legislature seat, Bruseker returned to teaching in Calgary and became involved in Association politics.
“That defeat was our gain,” Regal said.
Bruseker ran for Provincial Executive Council and served as Calgary City district representative for two terms (1999–2003) and ATA president for three terms (2003–2009). In his time as president, Bruseker’s magnum opus was to resolve teachers’ $2.1 billion unfunded pension liability through careful and strategic negotiation with government. The resolution of this issue saved Alberta taxpayers $42 billion.
Upon accepting his award, Bruseker said it was a special moment for him, and he was very humbled to be honoured alongside the other ATA award recipients, Alexandra Jurisic and Gene Zwozdesky.
“Part of the reason this is humbling is when I look at the other award recipients today ... I call them friends, I call them colleagues and it’s an honour to be presented honorary membership beside such wonderful individuals,” Bruseker said. ❚