I write this to remember Kormos and to explain something. Remember his genius at delivering to the waiting microphones and cameras, and explain the context behind a few of the TV images that eulogized the popular politician.
I never laughed as hard or as long as I did when Kormos brought my dog and pony stunt to life. It was March 2003. Janet Ecker was finance minister to Ernie Eves’ premiership in the year of the Magna Budget. Some Tory operative’s best idea for escaping public scrutiny of the province’s finances in an election year was to present the annual budget via television at the Magna auto parts plant to a stage-managed crowd.
Prorogation may have its warts, but what bigger pock on democracy is there than the outright removal of the budget from the Legislative Chamber on Budget Day?
That’s when we landed Kormos in front of the grand old parliament building resplendent with two four-legged props on budget day. Midnight, my friend’s Pomeranian did a wonderful spinning trick. Princess, the rental pony, delivered in spades, (so agile she could have walked up the front steps to the main door, I found out later.) Kormos was a delight to script. He gave grace to the written word, one of his loves.
The NDP’s Dog and Pony show dominated the news, mocked the governing Conservatives and sent opposition, heir-apparent Liberals, ignored, scowling and pouting, back to their offices. It was an event, the veteran MPP from Welland told me fairly recently, that people continued to mention to him a full decade later.
Kormos was always a player in these efforts and relished my schemes. I had him selling pencils outside Old City Hall in Toronto defying rigid laws proposed against panhandling. He paraded a team of NDP colleagues to the parliamentary parking lot to squeegee MPP car windows, protested nursing fee increases in a rocking chair marathon. Wherever there was action there was Kormos, master of creative media arts, always hungry for the next bite.
My team conjured up the ‘lawn chair press conference’ where Kormos held court basking in the sun and calling for two new statutory holidays a year.
For all his depth, Kormos remained ever the nuanced actor, who embraced the simple idea that fun communicates, fun sells.