04/26/2014 01:16 EDT | Updated 06/26/2014 05:59 EDT

Dan Heap, former Toronto NDP MP, dead at 88

Former Toronto NDP MP Dan Heap died Friday night, his family said. He was 88.

His son, David Heap, wrote about his father on Facebook, praising him as an "advocate of the homeless, for refugees and for peace [among other causes]."

"Pacifist, socialist, worker-priest, Marxist Anglican, trade-unionist, city councillor, member of parliament, civilly disobedient marcher for human rights. Wearer of red shirts, cyclist, paddler of canoes, singer of songs," David also wrote.

Heap, born in Winnipeg on Sept. 24, 1925, became an MP in 1981 when he won a byelection over perceived frontrunner Liberal Jim Coutts in downtown Toronto's Spadina riding.

He went on to win the 1984 federal contest for Spadina and once again represented the downtown area, but in the newly created Trinity–Spadina riding after 1988 vote, until his retirement in 1993.

Trinity–Spadina was held by New Democrat Olivia Chow until she resigned her seat last month to launch a Toronto mayoral campaign.

"He would risk anything, everything, to stand up for those who are oppressed, stand up for equality and peace. We need more voices like that," Chow said as she remembered Heap, who hired her as his constituency office assistant in the 1980s.

Heap was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2005 and moved into the long-term care home Kensington Gardens in the fall of 2011. His wife, Alice Heap, also a longtime social activist, died in 2012.