Dominic Agostino

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Dominic Agostino (October 14, 1959 - March 24, 2004) was a Canadian politician, who represented the riding of Hamilton East for the Liberal Party in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

Born in Sicily, Italy, Agostino was raised in Hamilton, Ontario and attended Mohawk College in that city. He worked as rehabilitation counsellor with the Ontario March of Dimes, and was a special assistant to Ontario Minister of Culture Lily Munro from 1985 to 1987.

Agostino was elected as a Catholic separate school board trustee in the Hamilton-Wentworth board at the age of 21, serving from 1980 to 1987. He then served as an alderman on the Hamilton City Council from 1987 until the provincial election of 1995, when he was elected as the Member of Provincial Parliament (MPP) for Hamilton East.

Agostino was the first Liberal candidate to win the riding since 1937, and the first member of Hamilton's Italian community to win a provincial election anywhere in the city. He defeated Andrew MacKenzie, the son of outgoing Ontario New Democratic Party Labour Minister Bob MacKenzie, by about 4,000 votes.

The 1995 election was won by the Progressive Conservative Party, and Agostino quickly emerged as a prominent figure in the parliamentary opposition. He became a leading spokesperson for the Liberal Party's left-wing, and gained particular praise for his performance as the party's Environment Critic from 1996 to 1999.

In 1996, Agostino supported Gerard Kennedy's unsuccessful bid for the party leadership. He was re-elected without difficulty in the provincial election of 1999, and served as Chief Opposition Whip from 1999 to 2002. Unlike some others in his party, he supported the City of Hamilton's amalgamation in 2000.

The Liberals won a majority government in the provincial election of 2003, although Agostino was re-elected with a somewhat reduced margin of victory. To the surprise of many in the province, he was not appointed to the first cabinet of Dalton McGuinty in October 2003. This was widely interpreted as a snub, but subsequent events cast the decision in a much different light.

Agostino passed away on March 24, 2004, of liver cancer. He had been battling the disease for some time and had undergone surgery during the 2003 campaign, although this information was not made public until his death.

Shortly after his death, the Toronto-based gay community magazine fab published an opinion piece titled "Why Did He Die a Straight Man?" The piece said that Agostino was homosexual, though in the closet, and that it was a shame this side to the man was not widely or openly discussed. Agostino had never denied his sexual identity, had participated in Toronto's Gay Pride Parade, and had become a noted advocate for gay rights in the legislature.[1] (http://www.fabmagazine.com/features/agostino/index.html)

In a by-election to fill his legislative seat held on May 13, 2004, his brother Ralph Agostino, a Catholic separate school board trustee, failed to retain the Hamilton East seat for the Liberal Party, falling far behind city councillor and NDP candidate Andrea Horwath.

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