His father, an emigrated Greek Cypriot and British-born mother lived in Manchester, England where Tony was born. At the age of 4 the family moved from England to Canada where they arrived in Hamilton, Ontario.
When his parents split up, he moved with his mother to Toronto, eventually settling in North York where he attended high school at George Vanier before finishing his undergrad in political science and history at the University of Toronto. He was accepted into law school at U of T and was called to the bar in 1988.
"I realized early on that drafting subordinated debentures for banks was not really my preferred focus," he says of his duties as a newly minted corporate lawyer. It was when the Berlin Wall came down in 1989 that he saw a chance to use his legal education and a budding entrepreneurial talent to work in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. Bouncing between Moscow, Bucharest, Prague and his home in Toronto, he began to see a greater world unfolding.
After his experiences in Eastern Europe he shifted his attention closer to home and family and entered provincial politics for just over 8 years. With a larger view of things, and an interest in national politics, he was elected to the governing Conservative party. "Through the good graces of the people of Parry Sound/Muskoka, I was elected in 2006," he says of his seat in northern Ontario.
Tony, always one who loved the north, began visiting the area in the early 1990's and that changed his life. They bought a home in the village of Port Sydney overlooking the falls. "This is a pretty powerful place. It is what grounds me after the stress of the office".
"When I turned 50, I'd always thought I'd like to play guitar. I was always a big rock 'n' roll fan, so I though't I should really do this," he says of of his growing repertoire of songs and collection of guitars deserving of their own man cave! "I thought I should start learning to play or arthritis and other old man ailments might kick in," he says laughing of the desire to learn something new and to stretch his mind and keep him sharp.
There is a large performing arts tradition in the Parry Sound/Muskoka area. "I have about two dozen or so songs down. People thought it would be funny to throw the politician on stage and see how he does." Tony is loving the balance that playing gigs with others and singing gives his life. "I'm not the greatest by any means, but that's ok, I love learning," he says as he strolls over the rocks and down to the falls behind the family home.
TONY FUN FACT: One day, while in the House of Commons during question period, he was asked a question. Acknowledging the question and rising, he answered the question this way:
"Well Mr. Speaker, I have already answered that question. But may I say... 'For the men who hold high places, must be the ones who start, to mold a new reality, closer to the heart' . I looked up at the the two gods of Canadian rock, Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson of the Rush and held my arms out at them looking down from the gallery."
Take a walk along the rocks down from the Port Sydney falls and you might just hear, if you listen really closely, you just may hear the chords of Closer To The Heart.
|PHOTO: SPENCER WYNN|