Mississauga Mayor Hazel McCallion Not Guilty of Conflict of Interest
Photography Paul Alexander
The conflict of interest complaint against long-serving Mississauga Mayor Hazel McCallion, 92, has been dismissed. The decision by Ontario Superior Court Justice John Sproat means McCallion not will not be forced to step down from a position she has held for 35 years.
Friday’s ruling followed a hearing into allegations that McCallion breached the Municipal Conflict Interest act back in 2007 when she voted on a bylaw amendment that would have saved her son’s development company – World Class Developments — $11 million in development charges.
McCallion has been voted into office 10 times as mayor of Mississauga since 1978, and is the longest serving elected official in Canada. She has said that, regardless of today’s decision, this would be her final term as mayor.
Read our feature from Zoomer magazine (October 2010) on Mayor Hazel McCallion below.
Hazel McCallion: Mississauga’s Long-Serving Mayor Is Still in the Game
By John Lorinc
The result is a well-run city that has delivered top-notch public services without resorting to constant tax hikes. For this reason, McCallion presided over a controversy-free council that benefited from mostly adoring media coverage for years. The mayor tolerated no dissent from councillors, controlled the civil service and won successive re-elections, often without campaigning.
She also took care not to insulate herself from public opinion with an entourage of handlers. Although McCallion is one of Canada’s best paid mayors, “She projects the image of frugality,” Urbaniak observes. “It allows her to persuade her constituents that she has everything under control.” He describes her as “probably one of the most pragmatic and calculating politicians this country has ever seen.”
Indeed, McCallion is a master when it comes to image management. A long-standing proponent of women’s hockey, she’s often been photographed in her hockey gear, a bit of self-conscious iconography that reinforces her reputation for toughness in a man’s game. She can be withering with put-downs, and politicians from the City of Toronto (she has snorted dismissively about Toronto’s budget woes for years) to Queen’s Park have lived in fear of one of her rhetorical body checks.
In recent years, with Mississauga completely built out and feeling the pinch of a quintessentially sprawl-minded approach to development, McCallion has become an advocate of “smart growth” planning ideas (more density, rapid transit, etc.), although her own government has done little to invest its cash in the same.
A conversion on the congested highway to Square One Mississauga? McCallion’s critics were quick to note the irony, but her support for better planning gave Dalton McGuinty’s Liberals the space to establish tough anti-sprawl rules.
The coda to her long career, however, is now being played out this year during a judicial inquiry examining whether she influenced a land deal involving a company her son, Peter, controls.
McCallion, Urbaniak says, has long had an entrepreneurial streak that informs her approach to politics. “Part of what we’re seeing is a mayor who found it difficult to make the distinction between public business and business outside the public realm.” She’s lost control of Mississauga council in the process.