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New Democratic MPP Peter Kormos. (Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail/Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail)
New Democratic MPP Peter Kormos. (Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail/Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail)

Peter Kormos, a 'thorn in the side of every premier,' to retire from Ontario politics Add to ...

Peter Kormos, one of the most respected members of the Ontario legislature and "a thorn in the side of every premier," is retiring after 23 years in politics.

Mr. Kormos announced on Friday that he is not running for re-election on Oct. 6. He has served as the New Democrat MPP for the riding of Welland, his home town, since 1988.

"I'm not an advocate of life-long politicians," the 58-year-old lawyer told reporters at an impromptu news conference. "This place needs new blood, it needs fresh ideas, it needs the energy of young people."

He has not yet determined his future plans. In his dual roles as NDP justice critic and house leader in recent years, Mr. Kormos put his vast knowledge of criminal law as well as parliamentary procedure to good use. But he is perhaps best remembered for an incident early in his political career that got him fired from former NDP premier Bob Rae's cabinet.

Mr. Kormos had appeared, fully clothed, as the Sunshine Boy in the Toronto Sun tabloid in March, 1991, a day after announcing that he would write tough guidelines to banish sexism from beer and liquor advertising.

His Sunshine Boy stint was one of the highlights of his political career and he would do it all again if he had the chance, said Mr. Kormos, who was sporting his trademark summer attire of Birkenstocks (no socks) and a blue, Oxford cloth dress shirt.

But the incident created a rift between Mr. Kormos and Mr. Rae, now interim Leader of the federal Liberals.

"I survived one leader," Mr. Kormos joked, "and enjoyed working with the other two."

His departure leaves an enormous hole for the New Democratic Party, which holds only 10 of the 107 seats in the legislature.

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath described him as a "champion for working people, a defender of the underdog, a thorn in the side of every premier, a maverick's maverick."

Premier Dalton McGuinty described him as a character but also a person of character.

"He is colourful. He can be controversial. He can be a kind of a fiery ball," he said, adding that he has "never doubted his sincerity and his commitment to his causes."

Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak described Mr. Kormos as "quick witted" and "a walking encyclopedia of standing orders, procedure or just ways to rattle the government's cage."

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