Tributes pour in for Peter Kormos | Local | News | Welland TribuneWELLAND - Peter Kormos is being remembered as a “staunch defender of democracy and fairness” who was a tireless advocate for his constituents.
The Niagara Region councillor and former longtime Welland NDP MPP was found dead Saturday at the age of 60.
Police, firefighters and paramedics were called to Kormos’s Bald St. home in Welland at 10:45 a.m.
Niagara Regional Police said the cause of death is still under investigation and an autopsy is scheduled for Monday morning in Hamilton.
As word of the polarizing figure’s death spread, tributes poured in from across the province.
“Everything he did, he did it for others and not for himself,” Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said in an interview. “He upheld the integrity of the democratic system and he had a thirst for knowledge and information that he would use to benefit others.”
Welland regional Coun. George Marshall said: “This is not a great day for Welland.”
He learned of Kormos’s passing when he received a call Saturday morning. He was shaken with the news.
“I can’t believe it. It (his death) came out of the blue.”
Kormos was a longtime politician who was never afraid to ruffle feathers at Queen’s Park. After serving as a city councillor in Welland, he was elected as an NDP member of provincial parliament for the Welland riding in 1988 after winning a byelection when Mel Swart stepped down.
Kormos was a stalwart at Queen’s Park, holding the Welland and Niagara Centre riding until he retired in 2011.
But he wasn’t completely done with politics.
In March 2012, Kormos was elected to regional council after winning a byelection by a landslide with 73% of Welland’s vote. The byelection was held to replace Cindy Forster, who left her position on regional council to take up Kormos’s position as the NDP candidate for the provincial Welland riding.
At the time, Kormos said he ran for regional council because he wanted to apply what he learned at Queen’s Park to his hometown needs.
Regional Chair Gary Burroughs said he spoke with Kormos Thursday and said he was “bright as usual.”
“He was looking forward to running again and we had a great conversation about it,” he said.
Burroughs called Kormos a “tireless advocate for the residents of Welland” and said he represented them “with a tenacity and flare that is rare in Canadian politics.”
“He was a staunch defender of democracy and fairness, and these principles were at the heart of every cause he championed,” Burroughs said.
“I think he really enjoyed regional council because he was so close to the people,” he added.
Burroughs described Kormos as “the character of council,” who wasn’t afraid to say anything.
Wainfleet Mayor April Jeffs will never forget the night Kormos stood up for the township at regional council.
Jeffs said there was a debate over the community paramedic program, now in place in Wainfleet, and a couple of councillors spoke out against it.
“Did he ever go to bat for Wainfleet. He was just so upset that someone was challenging something of such importance to the safety of the community. It made me emotional.”
Kormos sat behind Jeffs in regional council chambers and took her under his wing.
“Peter always had great advice for me,” she said. “I looked forward to seeing him at council. He’d always wink at me and call me kiddo.”
In February, Kormos launched a weekly radio talk show with St. Catharines regional Coun. Andy Petrowski to discuss regional politics.
“Peter and I were chatting (Friday) about what we were going to tackle on our radio show Sunday,” Petrowski said. “Except for his closest friends, he kept his health challenges very private. It was evident he was struggling with different things.”
Petrowski said he respected Kormos greatly.
“Even though Peter and I were on opposite ends of the spectrum politically, he was extremely professional and respectful,” he said. “It’s a sad day for Niagara. No one will be able to replace Peter’s mark on the political landscape locally and provincially.”
St. Catharines Liberal MPP Jim Bradley had a more than 25-year friendship with Kormos, and together the two addressed Niagara issues in Toronto.
“He didn’t forget his own community even when he became a player on the provincial scene,” Bradley said.
He said Kormos was read provincial bills “from cover-to-cover” when most politicians in parliament “relied on staff synopses.”
Welland Mayor Barry Sharpe said Kormos’s passing “will be felt right across the community.”
“It’s absolutely not a question there will be an out-pouring of grief and sadness,” he said.
Sharpe said he held a long acquaintanceship with Kormos through politics, most recently as a fellow member of regional council.
“It’s a huge sense of loss that will be felt across south Niagara. Peter was well-known and respected as a champion of the people.”
Forster said he was a “mentor” and the person who encouraged her to get into politics in the 1990s. Kormos recommended she try for a seat on Welland city council.
“He told me they needed more people like me because there needed to be more women on council. There was only one woman on council at that time,” she said.
Welland MP Malcolm Allen said Kormos was passionate about the people who he felt had been dealt a bad hand in life.
“Peter was one of those individuals who always made sure people whose voices weren’t heard had a chance to be heard,” Allen said.
“His good friends will sorely miss his friendship,” the MP said about Kormos.
— with files from Jeff Bolichowski
Peter Kormos (October 7, 1952 – March 30, 2013) was a politician in Welland, Ontario, Canada. A former lawyer, he was first elected as an Ontario New Democratic Party (ONDP) Member of Provincial Parliament (MPP) to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario in theWelland constituency in a 1988 provincial by-election. He replaced veteran NDP legislator Mel Swart. Kormos was re-elected in every subsequent Ontario general election until his retirement from provincial politics in 2011.
In 2012, he was elected to Niagara Regional Council in a by-election.
Early life and educationKormos had Slovak and Belgian cultural origins on his father's and mother's (Michael and Simone Kormos) respective sides.
Kormos first attained notoriety in the Welland area while still inhigh school, while president of his student council. Kormos led asit-in student strike against local administration practices and students' rights. The week-long strike brought school activities to a halt, resulting in Kormos's temporary expulsion. He was later educated at Niagara College, York University and Osgoode Hall inToronto. Called to the bar in 1980, Kormos then worked as a barrister in the Niagara Region.
Provincial by-election 1988Kormos was a practicing criminal lawyer, and a local Welland city councillor in 1988, when long-time Welland Member of Provincial Parliament (MPP) Mel Swart decided to retire due to health reasons. Swart was a populist ONDP MPP, in a heavily unionized constituency. The constituency had a long history of electing "populist" politicians, going back to 1951 to Swart's predecessor,Ellis Morningstar. The by-election occurred in the middle of two other major elections at the time: the Canadian General election known as the "Free Trade" election, and the Welland city council election. Kormos continued the "populist" approach pioneered by Morningstar and Swart, and won a heated – and what the The Toronto Star called, "[a] vote as dirty as mudwrestling" – election on November 3, 1988.
Bob Rae government 1990–1995The NDP won government under Bob Rae in the general election of 1990, and Kormos was appointed to cabinet as Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations and Minister of Financial Institutions on October 1, 1990. Notably, he was expected to implement a public auto insurance system, a longstanding cornerstone of Ontario NDP policy. Rae subsequently backed away from this goal, against considerable opposition from the outspoken Kormos and other party members, including Swart and Kormos' supporter and fellow MPP Mark Morrow.
Kormos additionally elicited controversy by appearing, fully clothed, as a "Sunshine Boy" model in the Toronto Sun tabloid. This was anathema to some in the party, because of the Sun's politicallyconservative position and because of the Sunshine Boy's place as a parallel to the "Sunshine Girl" franchise, pictures of scantily-clothed women given considerably more prominence than the Sunshine Boy. Kormos was dropped from cabinet on March 18, 1991. For the remainder of Rae's term in office, Kormos acted as an unofficial "left opposition" within the NDP caucus, together with Morrow and, until his resignation, Anglican priest Dennis Drainville. In 1993, this group and former cabinet minister Karen Haslam were the only NDP MPPs to vote against the Rae government's Social Contract legislation.
The NDP were defeated in the 1995 provincial election, though Kormos's personal popularity was such that he was re-elected without difficulty.
NDP opposition years 1995–2011After Rae's retirement, Kormos sought the leadership of the Ontario NDP at the convention held on June 22, 1996. He placed third, behind Frances Lankin and Howard Hampton. He threw his support to Hampton, which played significantly in Hampton's victory.
In 1996, Kormos was charged with assaulting a security guard at the Family Support Services office in Downsview, Ontario. Kormos challenged the charges on the basis that the prosecution amounted to an abuse of the court’s process by the Attorney General, though this challenge was dismissed by the court. Kormos was ultimately acquitted of the charges.
He was widely expected to contest the leadership in 2009, following Hampton's retirement, but instead supported the successful candidacy of Andrea Horwath.
Kormos served as House Leader for the Ontario NDP Caucus from 2001 until his retirement in 2011 and also held numerous critic portfolios in Opposition, including Justice, Community Safety and Correctional Services, Consumer and Business Services, Labour, and Democratic Renewal. On June 3, 2011, Kormos announced that he was not running for office again, and would retire after 23 years at the Legislative Assembly.
Niagara Regional CouncilKormos was elected to Niagara Regional Council in a municipal by-election on March 26, 2012, filling the seat vacated by Cindy Forster when she won election to succeed Kormos in the Legislative Assembly.
DeathKormos died on the morning of March 30, 2013 at his Welland, Ontario home. The cause of death was not immediately known, although he had been suffering Bell's palsy, back problems and high blood pressure. An autopsy found that foul play was not a factor in his death. The cause of death was not released.
ViewsDuring the debate on same-sex marriage he stated his position that "government should get out of the marriage business," which some critics see as an equivocal stance designed to placate social conservatives opposed to same-sex marriage. Nevertheless, Kormos was generally regarded as an ally of the province's gay community, and supported several bills expanding the range of same-sex benefits in the province.
Kormos represented socialist economic values with a populist,working-class presentation. He was notable for showing up in the provincial legislature in open-neck shirt and cowboy boots. He opposed the Third Way movement made famous by British Prime Minister Tony Blair.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Michael H Ballard Peter Thanks for being you. I admired your courage and spirit.April 3, 2013 at 10:08 pm
Troy Soper May you find peace wherever your beliefs have taken you...April 3, 2013 at 9:28 pm
Carolyn Forster You will be truly missed but now Mel will be waiting for you in heaven RIPApril 3, 2013 at 9:24 pm
Mark Platt A gladiator for us all. The struggle continues. Thanks Peter!April 3, 2013 at 9:20 pm
Mary-Lou Ambrose What a great guy, he spent so much time worrying about others that he forgot to take care of himself...when it really counted. Rest in Peace Peter, we will all miss you!April 3, 2013 at 9:10 pm
Jeff Walker Rest in Peace Peter. The politician for the people.April 3, 2013 at 8:55 pm
Donnie Nesbitt I am glad that there is a Memorial via Facebook for this man. He walked our neighbourhood and asked questions and listened and returned our calls.
Represent! Respect! RIP!
You Sir, were a good man.
April 3, 2013 at 8:45 pm
Aldo D'Onofrio Sad to here of Peter's passing...He will be missed by all..
Peter May You Now Rest In Peace.April 3, 2013 at 8:24 pm
Matt Forsythe Peter Kormos died this week. The most inspiring, zero-bullshit politician we've ever seen Ontario. Made me proud to be from Welland. April 3, 2013 at 8:24 pm
Liliana Gillespie rip my friendApril 3, 2013 at 8:08 pm
Michael Petrachenko Peter was omnipresent in our lives. Physically, because he was not only often in the media but attended functions, events, and all things Welland whenever possible. Mentally, because he was, is, and will be, forever in our minds and hearts because of the wonderful work that he did for all of us.April 3, 2013 at 7:44 pm
Michelle Champagnemanseau Amen...He helped so many of us.....I will always remember him and his Legacy
April 3, 2013 at 8:15 pm
Jacquie Napper My heart was touched by a gentle man named Peter Kormos... He is a once in a lifetime honest to the core politian... My brother George was one of his greatest fans.. Thank you Peter for all you have done for your country ,..April 3, 2013 at 7:37 pm
Michael Spiotti A great loss to the City of Welland, the Niagara Region, and Ontario. Peter was one of those rare politicians that truly put people before politics. Rest in peace.April 3, 2013 at 7:34 pm
Dorothy Mercier R.I.P Peter, you will be greatly missedApril 3, 2013 at 7:33 pm
Kevin McCormick My favorite politician of all time and one of the few I would call "honest". We were really upset to hear of his passing. Where ever he now....be assured he is trying to make things better!April 3, 2013 at 7:20 pm
Jim Lamontagne R.I.P. : -(April 3, 2013 at 7:20 pm
Marg Harris Sad to hear about Peter's passing......heart felt condolences to family and friends!April 3, 2013 at 6:58 pm
Robert Stonham As bob the clown I had the privlage to promote himabout five year,s ago when he for reelectilon Mr. Kormos visited us at the woodland,s of sunset home for elderly we used to joke together I wish I could have made it tosee hm one more time but my health and transportation are bad this time of year He was another man named Peter a true Gent an acareing funnyperson God bless Good bye sir.April 3, 2013 at 6:51 pm
Kim Bohun R.I.P. Peter. Hopefully the city of welland will find another like you to help the people and the communityApril 3, 2013 at 6:50 pm
Ect Jones You will be missed Mr. Kormos.April 3, 2013 at 6:50 pm
Patti Robinson So sad to hear about his unexpected passing...one of the few politicians than actually gave a damn about people in his ridingApril 3, 2013 at 6:49 pm
Gary John Roversi R.I.P Peter.April 3, 2013 at 6:45 pm
Francie McGlynn The Merritton Labour Day Parade won't ever be the same without him. A lot of things won't be the same I guess. So proud of him when he was my MPP! RIP, Peter.April 3, 2013 at 6:40 pm
Karen W RIP Peter, your passing has struck the heart of Welland and area. We have lost our Gladiator. N'er a finer man graced the Halls of Parliament. Thank you... may you find peace... alwaysApril 3, 2013 at 6:36 pm
Claude Beaudin A great man lost. Sorry for the families loss and sorry for society's loss as well.April 3, 2013 at 6:36 pm
Tammy Groff-McIntyre My deepest sympathy goes out to family, friends and everyone. We lost a champion for the people, he was a fighter in the little man's corner and will be greatly missedApril 3, 2013 at 6:34 pm
Sandra Golden I remember a few years back when Peter took the time to come to my parent's 50th anniversary party.April 3, 2013 at 6:31 pm
Sandra Golden You left us far too early Peter. A total shame. Only the good die young. Thoughts and condolences to all family and friends. What a loss.April 3, 2013 at 6:29 pm
Jay Gannon A progressive actually worthy of the term. RIPApril 3, 2013 at 6:20 pm
Shayne Kore Deepest sympathy to all family and friendsApril 3, 2013 at 6:19 pm
Susan Milani Jenkins god bless you peter!you will be missed especially here in thorold and welland!thank you for standing up for the little man:))April 3, 2013 at 6:18 pm
Kyle Trojan Murphy You were one of my favourite politicians. You really really were. You made me believe that the system can work, if we make it work.April 3, 2013 at 6:18 pm
Nancy Cormier Bouchard Mr Kormos, you will be greatly missed by many ! May you have everlasting peace for your soul ! RIPApril 3, 2013 at 6:16 pm
Trevor Vincent Arbour rip peter .... you were truly the heart and soul of our community. you will be greatly missed. and thank you for all you have done.April 3, 2013 at 6:15 pm
Monica Buliung R.I.P Peter ...we are all going to miss you so very much...thank-you for being the true soldier of the people that you were...and rest well dear man in peace...you sure earned it...we love you <3
April 3, 2013 at 6:12 pm