Former Ontario NDP Member of Provincial Parliament (MPP) Peter Kormos died suddenly on Saturday. The cause of death is not presently known. He was 60.
Kormos was first elected to Queen’s Park in a 1988 by-election in the Niagara constituency of Welland-Thorold. He quickly made a name for himself when he filibustered for 17 hours against the Liberal government’s auto insurance program.
When the NDP was unexpectedly elected to power in Ontario in 1990, Premier Bob Rae named Kormos to cabinet as Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations. He was going to implement public auto insurance but Rae backed off the policy. Kormos was subsequently fired from cabinet ostensibly for posing fully clothed as the “Sunshine Boy” in the Toronto Sun. But the reality was that Kormos disagreement with Rae over the abandonment of public auto made his presence in cabinet untenable. Kormos became something of a left-wing agitator for the remainder of the NDP’s term.
The NDP was jettisoned from office in 1995 but Kormos was easily re-elected. The following year Kormos ran unsuccessfully ran for the Ontario NDP leadership but finished third. He endorsed the eventual winner Howard Hampton.
During the ’96 ONDP leadership race, I had the opportunity to have breakfast with Kormos in Thunder Bay. He put on absolutely no airs and was enjoyable company.
That was key to Kormos’ appeal. He wore cowboy boots and never wore a tie in the legislature. Well, almost. When Kormos was chided for not wearing a tie in the legislature, he responded by wearing a tuxedo.
Kormos retired from Queens Park in 2011 but missed politics enough to seek and get elected to the Niagara Regional Council last year.
Kormos was widely admired across the political spectrum for his passion, conviction and his way with people. Ontario Tory leader Tim Hudak said the following about Kormos:
It’s rarely said – and in the best sense of the phrase – by politicians these days when speaking of someone so diametrically opposed in beliefs and convictions, but I can say with sad confidence on this day, ‘We shall not see his like again.’
Peter Kormos was many things. Boring wasn’t one of them.
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