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Hazel McCallion’s major political events as Mississauga’s mayor

October 18, 2014
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TORONTO – Mississauga’s longest serving mayor is retiring after 36 years of service.

Hazel McCallion, known as “Hurricane Hazel” for her vibrant, outspoken style of no-nonsense politics, is one of the best known and longest-serving mayors in Canada, having been elected in 1978.

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Last year, McCallion, 93, said one of her biggest regrets as mayor was not paying enough attention to transportation solutions.

“Even in Toronto – they don’t have an adequate transit system for the growth that has occurred in Toronto,” McCallion said in the sit-down interview with Global News. “If they don’t have an adequate [transit system] you can imagine that we don’t have an adequate transit system.”

We take a look at some of McCallion’s major political moments.

The Mississauga train derailment

During her first term, McCallion quickly put her name on the map as a mayor “who quickly got the job done.”

PHOTOS: The year Hazel McCallion was elected Mississauga mayor

On Nov. 10, 1979, a Canadian Pacific freight train carrying explosive and poisonous chemicals from Windsor, Ont., derailed near the intersection of Mavis and Dundas in Mississauga. Though no one was killed, over 250,000 people were evacuated in both Mississauga and Oakville. To date, the incident remains one of the largest peacetime, emergency evacuations of people in history.

An earth mover lays a road of gravel at the derailment site in preparation for equipment to be brought in to work on a tank at right containing propane. Tank has to be turned over for the openings to be reached. At midnight Saturday, Nov 11, 1979, a derailment of a CP Rail freight train and subsequent explosion resulted in a highly toxic chlorine gas leak from a ruptured tanker car.

An earth mover lays a road of gravel at the derailment site in preparation for equipment to be brought in to work on a tank at right containing propane. Tank has to be turned over for the openings to be reached. At midnight Saturday, Nov 11, 1979, a derailment of a CP Rail freight train and subsequent explosion resulted in a highly toxic chlorine gas leak from a ruptured tanker car.

Jack Dobson/AP Photo – File

For three days straight, McCallion met with fire and emergency workers and made the decision to evacuate Mississauga Hospital, a process that took more than four hours and required the use of more than 60 ambulances to transferred patients.

International politics

In 1983 during the annual convention of the Canadian Arab Federation, McCallion attacked the media in a speech and argued the Palestinian people “need and require and deserve a country on their own.”

“I say to the Canadian press, it’s time they had an open mind on the Palestinian question, it’s time that the press was not influenced by the powers and the money,” she told the audience, becoming one of the first Canadian politicians to openly support the creation of a Palestinian state.

Debt-free city

For over three decades (and while in power throughout that time), McCallion took pride in Mississauga’s debt-free status. But, in 2012, the city went into the red for the first time in 33 years and took out a loan of $450 million—a sum that would be taken out over the next eight years—in order to fix aging infrastructure, improve the transit system and roads and other projects.

“We just can’t raise enough funding quickly enough from our property taxes and limited revenue sources,” said the mayor in a statement in April 2014 after announcing that the city cannot raise enough money from taxes to pay for its growing list of infrastructure needs. “We need to take on debt so we can continue to deliver transit, roads and libraries, recreations centres and all the other programs and services that our citizens depend on.”

Conflict of interest case

In June 2013, a judge ruled that McCallion may have shown willful blindness and defied common sense when she voted on a development deal involving her son, but it wasn’t enough to warrant ousting her from office.

“In my opinion, a reasonable elector, apprised of all the circumstance of the votes, would not regard the deemed financial interest of Hazel McCallion as likely to have influenced her vote,” said judge John Sproat in his ruling.

Hazel’s son McCallion was involved in World Class Developments’ plan to build a $1.5-billion hotel and convention centre near Mississauga’s city hall.

The deal eventually fell through, but not before the mayor voted on legislation that could have saved WCD $11 million. McCallion was accused of interfering in a land deal involving her son, but denied the accusation saying, “you can’t always be aware of what your family members are doing.”

The vote occurred in September 2007 by the Region of Peel Council, which includes Mississauga as well as Brampton and Caledon.

 – with files from The Canadian Press

© Shaw Media, 2014

Article source: http://globalnews.ca/news/1615235/hazel-mccallions-major-political-events-as-mississaugas-mayor/

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