Peter Naglik, a long-time political party activist and devout Catholic, was killed in the early hours of Sept. 29 at the age of 39 in a single-vehicle accident en route to his home, near Ottawa.

The resident of Russell, Ont. was driving his 1995 Chrysler Concorde when he lost control of the vehicle. The car flipped onto its roof and smashed into a hydro pole. Naglik was alone in the car and was wearing his seatbelt.

Naglik cut his teeth in politics with the Liberal party, student politics at the University of Toronto and in the Canadian pro-life movement.  It was, in part, because of this latter involvement and the Catholic faith that informed his pro-life commitment – a commitment that saw him involved in street-level pickets as a student – that he left the Liberal party in the early 1990s.

In 1993, Naglik ran the campaign for Joe Bissonette, now a high school teacher in the Brant-Haldimand-Norfolk Catholic School Board, when Bissonette ran for the federal Liberal nomination in Scarborough. reported: “Thanks in large part to Peter’s skills, Bissonette came very close to causing a major upset and winning the nomination against a star, party-backed candidate. The campaign was lost at the last minute due to unethical Liberal party tactics to ensure their parachuted candidate won the nomination.” Bissonette recalled to LifeSite how Naglik told him during the campaign “that every morning when he woke up one of his first three thoughts was how to fight abortion.”

Despite being active in the youth wing of the Liberals, Naglik became disaffected with the party.
I met Naglik in 1995, not long after Mike Harris’s landmark electoral victory, when he was working in the new Premier’s office, responsible for writing Harris’s correspondence. I quickly learned that Naglik possessed a “wicked” sense of humour with a laugh to match. He could tap out a snappy turn of phrase and, if sufficiently provoked, would mount a pointed policy argument with verve.

A former colleague in the Ontario PC caucus’s Government Members’ Services, Joan Tintor, offers this account of Naglik’s quick wit in her blog tribute: “Peter not only had a sharp eye, and an even sharper pen, but a gift for the invented word and pointed phrase. Caribana was, in his view, ‘Scary-bana.’ He referred to gay conservatives – some of whom were genuine friends – as ‘homo-cons.’ The PC-DRC alliance was the ‘Tory Dorks.’ Commenting on the personal hygiene of a certain member of the Queen’s Park Press Gallery, he remarked that said reporter always looked like a ‘glazed donut.’ He occasionally referred to one of our MPPs, Carl De Faria, as ‘Count Chocula.’ There was no malice in any of this – it was merely Peter’s mischievous, yet accurate, shorthand.”

According to Tintor and Robert Benzie, a member of the Queen’s Park Press Gallery, Naglik possessed a near-legendary reputation for knowing the ins and outs of what was going on at “the Park” and in Toronto politics. As Benzie put it, when he was new to the Ontario Legislature, he was advised to get to know Naglik, since “Naglik knows.” And while he didn’t wear it on his sleeve, anyone who knew Naglik for very long would discover an abiding Catholic faith that informed and fed his passion for politics as public service – something far too uncommon in political circles.

Perhaps chief among Naglik’s heroes was John Paul II – “John Paul the Great.” Naglik, too, was a passionate supporter of politicians who expressed and carried forward his policy commitments into the public debate and even into law. Naglik was a partisan’s partisan who rarely, if ever, saw a political battle he wouldn’t engage.

It may have been in this spirit that Naglik not only took a leave from Queen’s Park to serve in the Canadian Alliance’s Ottawa war room in the federal election of 2000, but that saw him move to the nation’s capital to serve the leader of the opposition, Stockwell Day, as Question Period co-ordinator.

Throughout the years, he was also mentor and adviser to many in the social conservative movement, from young activists to candidates and elected officials. After a stint on Parliament Hill, he served with pro-life Ontario PC MPP, Garry Guzzo, and later was tasked with running the Ottawa office of a Toronto government relations firm. Most recently, he had managed the newly elected pro-life Conservative MP Pierre Lemieux’s campaign for Glengarry-Prescott-Russell riding.

Over the last few years, it was gratifying for his friends to watch Naglik come into his own as he found love in this life and domestic happiness, as he made headway in the struggle so many of us have with our weight and as, most recently, he took strides with his business partner in building an enterprise from the ground up. Naglik had joined with a business partner, Mark Spiro, in building a new firm, Crestview Public Affairs, in Ottawa.

Naglik leaves to mourn his beloved Rossana Whissell and her daughters, Jessica and Leah Bortolotti, his parents, Norman and Bobbie Naglik and his his brother, Michael, and sisters, Andrea and Cathy.

What more can one say? Only this, as someone once wrote of others who devoted their lives in the service of God to better the human condition … And the world was not worthy of them – Epistle to the Hebrews 11: 38
Requiescat in Pacem, Peter. Or, as he himself might have said, “Bye, for now.”

Russ Kuykendall is a political party activist, and a former parliamentary and Queen’s Park political staffer. He is currently the senior researcher with the Work Research Foundation and assistant editor of Comment. He blogs at