Welcome to Shopping Mississauga

You can log in, add your company information for free and leave your comments and suggestions.

Just click the Home page, you can find how easy to publish your ads on Shopping Mississauga.

Member Login
Lost your password?

Mississauga Mayor Hazel McCallion remains a whirlwind to the end

November 9, 2014
By

MISSISSAUGA – 

Hurricane Hazel McCallion is hell bent and determined to continue to be a whirlwind of activity up to the moment she officially hands over the reins of power to her successor on Nov. 30 — and well beyond.

In fact, our nearly three-hour lunch last week — the bulk of it spent talking rather than eating — is sandwiched in between a breakfast meeting, paperwork and a trip into Toronto by limo for the Cardinal’s dinner.

There was a time when the 93-year-old retiring Mississauga mayor would drive herself, as she does to all events in her own city, but she tells me there’s just too much construction in downtown Toronto now to weave her way through the maze.

She shows me her schedule — printed in regular type on yellow paper and which she reads without glasses — from a recent Saturday in September. It contained nine events and at least four drop-ins in the evening, all at which she missed dinner — leaving her to partake of a cheese and onion sandwich when she got home.

“I’m mayor until Nov. 30 … I will not lessen up my time or my effort to get unfinished business finished if I can and to brief the new mayor on the status of the items I’ve been dealing with,” she says.

I’m weary just thinking about her schedule, especially when she tells me that except for mowing her lawn, she does all her own housework, cooking and gardening.

“When I’m doing housework, I get some great ideas,” she says.

She will be at her successor Bonnie Crombie’s inaugural council meeting on Dec. 2 but only as a “private citizen.

“I’m accepting it as a fact of life … I feel confident the new mayor and council will continue to develop Mississauga,” she says, somewhat wistfully. “There will be some new ideas come forward which is good … there will be some new challenges.”

McCallion says she hasn’t given life beyond Nov. 30 tremendous thought except for the fact that she has some publicity to do for her newly launched autobiography, aptly named Hurricane Hazel — which was written by Robert Brehl and on the shelves in under a year.

“I think he did a fantastic job,” she says, repeating more than once that the author didn’t “usurp” a lot of her time or get in the way of her mayor’s job in the past year as she had been concerned he would.

The former professional hockey player (she played in 1940-41 in Montreal for a team sponsored by Kik Cola) she says she intends to continue working with the Ontario Women’s Hockey Association to keep women’s hockey in the Olympic Games. She says she’s been asked to sit on many advisory boards but won’t decide on any of that until Jan. 1.

McCallion, who endorsed Kathleen Wynne back in June, concedes she’s also had discussions with the premier about taking advantage of the retiring mayor’s experience bringing the GTA mayors together.

“But there’s nothing definite,” she insists. “We just discussed I’m going to be free now, but nothing, absolutely nothing (has been confirmed.)”

She bristles somewhat when I ask her why she ended up endorsing Crombie for mayor over rival Steve Mahoney, especially when Mississauga residents were led to believe she’d stay neutral.

She insists she never said she’d remain neutral; rather that she’d analyze the platforms of those running for mayor and would endorse the platform she felt was good for Mississauga.

“I never endorsed Bonnie Crombie and she knows that … I endorsed Bonnie Crombie’s platform,” she said.

When I suggested that notwithstanding, her endorsement carried tremendous weight, she claims Crombie would have won without her endorsement.

“It would have been close but she was gaining the momentum,” says Hurricane Hazel. “My endorsement just gave her the big win and she knows it.

It was of course at that point I realized the wily Mississauga mayor knew very well what she was doing — that she saw Crombie as the one best to carry on her legacy.

Legacy is indeed an understatement.

With only a Grade 11 education, McCallion spent the first 25 years in the private sector working for the Canadian subsidiary of an American company.

In 1967 when she first ran for deputy reeve of what was then Streetsville, she says it “wasn’t easy” with an all-male council. She says even the women didn’t support her.

But 10 years later when she ran for mayor of Mississauga, the women of the city — having heard her speak and gotten to know her — had a “lot to do” with getting her elected.

To this day, she admits she’s been helped a lot along the way — mostly because she was able to admit when she didn’t know things, or was uncertain.

She thinks today it is women who hold other women back. 

“Women are very gossipy about how another woman dresses,” she says. “Have you ever heard a man looking at another man and saying, your tie doesn’t match your suit?”

Her husband and the love of her life — who always supported what she did — died in 1997 of Alzheimers. She is quite content to live alone now with her seven-year-old German Shepherd Missy.

She survived 12 elections — two of them acclamations — five city managers and presided over the growth of Mississauga from a population of 280,852 in 1978 to 713,443 in the most recent census.

In fact, she is fond of saying that when she first was elected in 1978, she’d look out the window of her office building and see cows and horses grazing across the field.

“None of this was here … it was all open field,” she says looking out from her favourite table in the Living Arts Centre’s Live restaurant.

Although she was known to run her city with an iron fist, she credits the great team of staff and councillors who helped her ensure that residential subdivisions were built with all the necessary community centres, sports fields, libraries, schools, trails and church sites were built long before big facilities and high-rise developments (which are now concentrated in the city’s core.)

Under her stewardship and her insistence that growth must pay its way in terms of capital infrastructure, the city remained debt-free for decades , until 2013 when growth slowed and money was still needed to keep their libraries, roads and community centres up to date.

But as McCallion says, their debt — about $90 million — is a “drop in the bucket” compared to other municipalities.

I asked her if she is now sorry she stayed one term too long given that the past four years have been tainted with the $7.5-million conflict of interest inquiry and conflict of interest case against her, the latter dismissed in June of 2013.

In fact, I was extremely tough on her in October of 2011 when Hon. J. Douglas Cunningham left little room for debate that McCallion was in a “real and apparent conflict of interest” when she intervened — behind closed doors — in a land deal involving World Class Developments( WCD), a company for which her son Peter acted as a real estate agent.

The WCD project ended up failing.

I criticized her for being vintage Hurricane Hazel the day the inquiry findings were released — namely for being unrepentant and for considering herself above scrutiny. I suggested the savvy McCallion knew very well what she was doing, especially since she’d been found guilty of conflict of interest early in her career but was let off the hook because it had been considered an error in judgment.

But even last week, McCallion continued to insist the inquiry didn’t bother her and her conscience is “clear.”

She stops short of saying she got a bum rap but makes no bones that it was the woman who wanted her job — the controversial Carolyn Parrish (then a Ward 5 councillor) — who was behind the inquiry and her legal troubles.

When the inquiry didn’t work, Hurricane Hazel says Parrish got someone with close ties to her to launch a conflict of interest suit against her — one that ended up costing the retiring mayor $500,000 out of her own pocket to defend.

“She did everything in her power to get me,” says McCallion of Parrish. “It was a hard couple of years but the people were behind me … you go through these challenges.”

I asked Parrish if she wanted to respond to McCallion’s claims.

Parrish, who was just returned to council on Oct. 27, responded in an e-mail that she wants to put McCallion “behind” her and “start fresh.

“I have nothing to say about the retiring mayor,” she said.

Article source: http://www.torontosun.com/2014/11/08/mississauga-mayor-hazel-mccallion-remains-a-whirlwind-to-the-end

No related posts.

Tags:



Mississauga News

User Login