Former NDP politician Peter Kormos dead at 60

Former Ontario NDP MPP Peter Kormos has died at the age of 60.

A 'legend in politics'

Former Ontario NDP MPP Peter Kormos has died at age 60. The cause is currently unknown 3:15

Former Ontario NDP MPP Peter Kormos has died at the age of 60. The cause of death is not immediately known.

Kormos died Saturday morning at his Welland, Ont., home, according to Niagara Region Coun. Andrew Petrowski.

Police and EMS were called to Kormos's home about 10:46 a.m. ET, according to The St. Catharines Standard.

Kormos, a criminal lawyer by trade, was first elected to the legislature in 1988.

After nearly 23 years in provincial politics, Kormos was elected in 2012 to represent Welland — about 20 kilometres west of Niagara Falls — on the Niagara Regional Council, winning with 73 per cent of the vote.

"He fought very articulately and cogently for anything he stood for," Petrowski said. "When Peter stood up nobody in council, including the chair, could control him. He was in control of that council and he would get his thought across come heck or high water."

Petrowski, a conservative politician, hosted a weekly talk show on a local radio station with Kormos.

Respected people of all political stripes

Kormos was named to cabinet when the New Democrats came to power under Bob Rae in 1990. However, he feuded with Rae over public auto insurance and delivered an all-night speech on the insurance issue.

A series of events, including posing fully clothed as a "Sunshine Boy" in a Toronto tabloid, led to his expulsion from cabinet in 1991.

Welland Mayor Barry Sharpe told The Standard that Kormos's death "will be felt right across the community."

External Affairs Minister John Baird said he was "shocked and deeply saddened" by Kormos's death.

"Peter will be remembered for his humour, his humility and his dedication to our province and our country. He will be sorely missed," Baird said in a statement posted on his website. "To Peter’s friends and family, I send my condolences and deepest sympathies during this most difficult time."

Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath released a statement commending Kormos for how genuine he was.

"Peter Kormos was a legend in politics, and a champion for his fellow Wellanders and the people of Niagara," she said.

"Peter earned the respect of everyone he met regardless of political stripe. He never minced words and he never put on airs … He made a difference in people's lives and left behind a pair of cowboy boots that will never be filled."

"He was a brilliant parliamentarian," Horwath told CBC News.

"For Peter is was always about making sure that everyday folks got a fair shake and that we didn't continue to just go along on cruise control in the legislature and not realize that our job there… was to represent real people."

Horwath said that Kormos' support of her helped give her confidence during her bid to become the Ontario NDP leader.

Conservative leader Tim Hudak commented on their neighbouring constituencies and shared Slovak heritage in a statement released Saturday afternoon.

"I felt it because Peter was one of those rare Parliamentarians who simply dropped the partisanship at the door on the way out of Queen’s Park at the end of the day," Hudak said.

"He was friendly, funny, compassionate and thoughtful … But Peter was also a tenacious fighter for the things he believed in."

Premier Kathleen Wynne also mentioned Kormos's poltical knowledge as she expressed her condolences in a statement.

"Peter was a man who never stopped fighting for what he believed in, and he firmly stood his ground within his party and in the face of any opposition," Wynne said. "He was a passionate advocate of equality, and an important ally of the working class.

"Regardless of political party or ideological stripe, we owe a debt of gratitude to those who dedicate their lives to public service and I thank Peter for all he did as an elected representative, both in the provincial legislature and on the Niagara Regional council."

With files from the Canadian Press