Tooker Gomberg, 48, Presumed Dead

Published March 19, 2004, issue of March 19, 2004.
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Tooker Gomberg, an environmental activist known as one of Canada’s most colorful political figures, was reported missing and presumed dead after apparently jumping off a bridge March 5 in Halifax, Nova Scotia. He was 48, and was said to have suffered from depression.

In the early 1990s, Gomberg served one term as a member of the Edmonton city council, where he was known as a stubborn but engaging advocate for environmental causes, particularly bicycle-riding to reduce automobile use. Criticized for not wearing a tie to his swearing-in, he publicly fed a tie to compost worms in his office.

He once locked himself inside a vault in the office of Alberta Premier Ralph Klein to protest Klein’s failure to implement the Kyoto treaty on the environment. In 2000 he and a group of followers threw pennies at the head of Imperial Oil during the Canadian corporation’s annual meeting, to symbolize the price per share of reducing greenhouse gasses.

“I have never seen anyone who walked the talk like Tooker did — he lived what he preached,” fellow councilman Brian Mason, now a provincial legislator, told The Canadian Press.

Born in suburban Montreal, Richard Gomberg was a graduate of United Talmud Torah day schools and Herzliah High School, and began his activist career as a member of the Labor Zionist youth group Habonim. “Tooker” was a childhood nickname.

After graduating from Hampshire College as an environmental studies major, he returned to Montreal, starting one of Canada’s first curbside recycling programs in 1977.

He moved to Edmonton in 1982, initially working for an energy firm promoting conservation in schools. After leaving the city council in 1995 he mounted unsuccessful campaigns for mayor of Edmonton and for federal parliament in Montreal. In 2000 he ran for mayor of Toronto and ran a distant second.

Gomberg is survived by his wife of 17 years, Angela Bischoff; his parents, Charles and Bayla Gomberg, and three brothers.

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