Peter Kormos, the charismatic and outspoken long-time former Niagara Region NDP MPP, has died. He was 60.
Police were called to his home in Welland, Ont. Saturday and he was pronounced dead.
Mr. Kormos, a jovial figure around Queen's Park, was first elected in a 1988 by-election. Appointed to cabinet in 1990, he ultimately broke with then-premier Bob Rae over the latter's refusal to implement public auto insurance.
A staunch leftist, he also opposed his own party's austere social contract legislation.
He unsuccessfully sought his party's leadership in 1996, after Mr. Rae's departure.
Mr. Kormos was re-elected five times before choosing not to stand again in 2011.
He was elected to Niagara Regional Council last year and co-hosted a radio program on CKTB.
NDP Leader Andrea Horwath described Mr. Kormos as a "legend in politics," and recalled his integrity, eloquence and colourful persona.
"New Democrats, and Ontarians across the province, have lost a giant today and I've lost a mentor and friend," she said in a statement. "Peter earned the respect of everyone he met regardless of political stripe. He never minced words and he never put on airs. Peter treated everyone equally whether he was speaking with eloquence on the floor of the Legislature, or shooting the breeze with his friends at the Welland market. Peter Kormos was the genuine article and truly one of a kind. He made a difference in people's lives and left behind a pair of cowboy boots that will never be filled."
Premier Kathleen Wynne recalled Mr. Kormos's friendship and encyclopedic knowledge of legislative procedure.
"Peter Kormos was a supportive friend, and I will miss his presence and his profound understanding of parliamentary procedure," she wrote on Twitter. "My thoughts are with Peter Kormos' loved ones, his friends and community, and his extended NDP family."
Opposition Leader Tim Hudak said that, while he and Mr. Kormos hailed from opposite sides of the political spectrum, the pair shared Slovak roots and came from adjoining ridings.
Mr. Kormos, he said, had a rare ability to set partisanship aside at the end of the day and described him as "friendly, funny, compassionate and thoughtful."
"But Peter was also a tenacious fighter for the things he believed in. Eloquent, informed, by turns fiery and analytical. He was an iconic figure in the New Democratic Party, and beyond. Peter represented true democratic representation at its best," Mr. Hudak said in a statement. "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'."