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August 12, 1955|
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
|Died||March 4, 2004
Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
|Cause of death||Suicide|
|Alma mater||Hampshire College|
|Political party||New Democratic Party|
Tooker Gomberg (August 12, 1955 – March 3 or March 4, 2004) was a Canadian politician and environmental activist. A native of Montreal, Quebec and a liberal-arts graduate of Hampshire College (1980), Gomberg founded one of Canada's first curbside recycling programs in Montreal, and later moved to Edmonton, Alberta, where he created educational materials for Alberta's energy ministry and headed the EcoCity Society, an environmental agency.
In 1992, he was elected to Edmonton's city council. He later ran for the position of Mayor, but was not elected.
Toronto mayoralty run
Gomberg then moved to Toronto, Ontario, where he ran for mayor in the 2000 municipal election. He received over 51,000 votes, but finished a distant second behind Mel Lastman who garnered over 80 per cent of the vote.
The campaign was nonetheless influential. Gomberg had been endorsed by urban guru Jane Jacobs, a longtime and influential resident of Toronto's Annex neighborhood. Some of Gomberg's platform included advocacy of provincial powers for Toronto and tolls for downtown traffic, policies that re-emerged in the successful 2003 campaign of David Miller.
In the last days of the 2000 campaign, Lastman appeared with Canadian PM Jean Chrétien to promise nearly one billion dollars in social housing funding. After winning, one of Lastman's first acts was to appoint Jane Jacobs to the City's Charter Committee which was seeking additional powers for the City (taking them from the province of Ontario). Both moves were generally attributed to the need to respond to Gomberg's insurgent campaign.
While in Toronto, Gomberg also hosted Eco-Freako, a webcast TV show. It ran for ten episodes.
Activism and arrests
Gomberg was often controversial as an environmental activist, having been arrested numerous times.
In June 2000, he was arrested at the World Petroleum Congress protests in Calgary. A protest march had taken him by the Suncor building, which was a violation of terms from an arrest at a Suncor protest in Northern Alberta. He was held for a couple of hours, then released. His was one of only three arrests at the WPC protests - the others being a street youth with outstanding warrants, and a woman who, when leaving the convergence centre was followed by police for several kilometers, stopped, and arrested for traffic violations.
On Thursday, March 4, 2004, Gomberg was reported missing to police, who later stated that he appeared to have jumped off the middle of the Angus L. Macdonald Bridge, in Halifax, Nova Scotia, in the early hours of the morning. He had left his partner[clarification needed] a suicide note stating that he had "lost his chutzpah" and his bicycle and helmet were found on the bridge. His body was never found.
His wife,[clarification needed] Angela Bischoff, suspects that his use of the antidepressant Remeron may have led to his decision to commit suicide. Gomberg had become increasingly agitated in his final weeks and his Remeron dosage had been increased to the maximum amount two days before his death. Three weeks later, U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued stronger warnings about a link between antidepressants and the risk of suicide, particularly in the weeks after a patient starts treatment or their dosage is increased. Health Canada later followed suit, and Remeron is now listed in Health Canada's adverse drug reaction database.
- Lejtenyi, Patrick (March 3, 2005). "Tooker Remembered". Montreal Mirror. Retrieved August 4, 2009.
- "Chicago Department of Transportation Bike Program Staff page showing picture of Ben Gomberg". Retrieved 2009-09-02.
- Take The Tooker Bloor Street Memorial Bike lane in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
- Greenspiration Tooker Gomberg and Angela Bischoff's work together, and since his death.
- Official biography for Tooker and Angela
- Healthy Mind Body Planet Tour 2006 '(honoring) the late Tooker Gomberg by concentrating on the role that mental illness and associated treatments played in his death
- Tooker Gomberg Memorial discussion forum
- Story on Tooker Gomberg death (subscription)
- Take the Tooker Launch Video
- Tooker (Le Monde à bicyclette) song with lyrics by Mike Ford
- - Videos produced by and about Tooker Gomberg