Tooker Gomberg

Last updated
Tooker Gomberg
Born(1955-08-12)August 12, 1955
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
DiedMarch 4, 2004(2004-03-04) (aged 48)
Cause of deathSuicide
Alma mater Hampshire College
OccupationEnvironmental Activist
Political party New Democratic Party
Spouse(s)Angela Bischoff

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.


Political career

In 1992, he was elected to Edmonton's city council. In 1995 he ran for re-election but was not elected. It is said his support for high-density development of the Little Brickyard in his home base of Riverdale lost him support among many of the people there. His stand was in line with his belief in built-up, not sprawling, urban centres.

He ran for the position of Mayor in the 1998 municipal election, placing fourth with 15 percent of the vote.

In 1997, he was the New Democratic Party candidate for the Montreal riding of Outremont.

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.[ citation needed ]


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.

He locked himself in a safe in Alberta premier Ralph Klein's constituency office as a protest against the province's stance on Kyoto.

He was also arrested in the Netherlands after breaking into the Volkel NATO Air Force base with 9 other anti-nuclear activists working to expose the presence of nuclear weapons in that country.


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. [1] [2] He had left his partner 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 partner, 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. [3] [4] [5] 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. [6] Health Canada later followed suit, and as of 2005, Remeron was listed in Health Canada's adverse drug reaction database. [7] [8]

Toronto activists advocated the establishment of a major East-West Bike lane, to be called the "Tooker", on Bloor Street, to honour the life of Tooker Gomberg. [9]

Tooker Gomberg's brother Ben is, as of summer 2009, the head of the Chicago Department of Transportation's Bike (bicycle) Program. [10]

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  1. "Tooker Gomberg presumed dead". The Globe and Mail. 5 March 2004. Archived from the original on 16 April 2004. Retrieved 18 February 2020.
  2. Lejtenyi, Patrick (March 3, 2005). "Tooker Remembered". Montreal Mirror . Archived from the original on 19 April 2005. Retrieved August 4, 2009.
  3. Humphrey, Stephen (4 August 2005). "Did pills kill Tooker?". Now. Archived from the original on 18 February 2020. Retrieved 18 February 2020.
  4. Humphrey, Stephen (1 July 2006). "The Healing of Angela Bischoff". Alberta Views . Archived from the original on 18 February 2020. Retrieved 18 February 2020.
  5. Gillis, John (26 April 2006). "Widow of bridge suicide victim urges MD body to do more". The Chronicle Herald . Retrieved 18 February 2020.[ dead link ]
  6. "WORSENING DEPRESSION AND SUICIDALITY IN PATIENTS BEING TREATED WITH ANTIDEPRESSANT MEDICATIONS". Food and Drug Administration . 22 March 2004. Archived from the original on 25 March 2004. Retrieved 18 February 2020.
  7. "Detailed Adverse Reaction Report Information". Health Canada . Retrieved 18 February 2020.
  8. "YOUR DRUG MAY BE YOUR PROBLEM". Greenspiration. Archived from the original on 29 October 2005.
  10. "Chicago Department of Transportation Bike Program Staff page showing picture of Ben Gomberg". Archived from the original on 2009-08-22. Retrieved 2009-09-02.