I am sure that this blog post will not make any sense to most of the people who regularly read my posts but occasionally I need to deviate from my typical topics and pay homage to people who I have met in my life and that I truly admire.
Peter Kormos, a long time NDP Ontario Member of the Provincial Legislature, who passed away yesterday at the age of 60 was a political figure who I both admired and also frequently made me scratch my head in wonder. He was a brilliant man and orator, renegade and champion of the people. In fact I first met him at the exact same time that I met Jack Layton. I was in my mid-20’s and was working at Queen’s Park, the Ontario Provincial Legislature. The province of Ontario was in a state of flux with the NDP (New Democratic Party) in political power and no doubt all Ontarians felt at the time that the World had tipped on its axis. I played in a Queen’s Park softball league and we actually had t-shirts printed up to wear that said “Don’t blame me, I didn’t vote NDP!”
As a Policy Analyst handling six major policy areas, I had the privilege, pleasure and frustration of often working with politicians of all political stripes. I will never forgot my first impression of Peter Kormos, who rose in the provincial legislature dressed in his trademark cowboy boots, blue shirt and chinos to speak on a piece of legislation that his own government/political party had introduced. I sat spell-bound in the staffers gallery located behind the Speaker’s Chair. In the 10 years of political experience that I had acquired up to that point, I had never truly witnessed anything like Peter Kormos.
His personal style, attitude and brilliant oratory ability combined with his conviction to represent the average Ontario fascinated me and to this day earned my undying respect. There were often moments when I could only scratch my head in wonder at Peter’s approach. As a non-conformist myself I could identify in many ways to his approach yet there were many times when he crossed lines to make a point that I could never even dream of. Yet always consistent was his respect for the parliamentary process even when he was challenging it and being escorted from the Legislature by the Sargent of Arms. Those days at Queen’s Park taught me so much about the process and rules of parliament. Much of it thanks to Peter.
I can’t really call Peter a friend but during my years at Queen’s Park I often had conversations, political discussions and shared convictions with him. He was someone that I always respected even if I didn’t always totally understand him. His loss will be felt yet his legacy within Ontario politics and Queens Park will live on. It can’t not! He was an icon and certainly one of a kind.
May he rest in peace.