On October 3rd, 2011, the results of the City of Mississauga’s Judicial Inquiry, examining Mayor Hazel McCallion’s allegedly improper involvement in son Peter McCallion’s hotel development project, were released. The report claims that the Mayor’s use of her powers to promote the World Class Developments (WCD) project was “improper” and represented “a real conflict of interest”, but did not violate the letter of the law. It prompted complaints about the cost of the Inquiry, as well as criticism from a few academics and political foes some of which we have captured below.
“Given Peter McCallion’s pecuniary interest in the transaction, it was improper for the Mayor to repeatedly use her office on behalf of World Class Developments (WCD). This finding is supported both by the common law and common sense.”
Justice Douglas Cunningham, Commissioner of the Mississauga Judicial Inquiry entitled Updating the Ethical Infrastructure
“If I ignored an unwritten rule by supporting a project that council and I believe was critical for the growth of Mississauga and which we have been striving to attain for some 20 years, then I apologize. It was never my intent to ignore the rules; I only wish there had been clarity at the time to what the rules were or an integrity commissioner had been in place for consultation. I followed the rules as I understood them.”
Mayor Hazel McCallion to Mississauga City Council
“With respect, the Mayor ought to have given the WCD project a wide berth. A member of Council cannot promote the financial interests of family members and must avoid any appearance of impropriety.”
Justice Douglas Cunningham, public statement
“[I don’t think] any outside body can do anything to [McCallion’s] reputation built over 32 years. She didn’t admit any guilt, she spun it around in her favour as she always does, but I don’t think any mayor in this city will be given this leeway again.”
Carolyn Parrish, former Councillor Ward 6, Toronto Star
“Ms. McCallion is in a league of her own in terms of the affection and latitude that her residents seem prepared to extend to her. She has succeeded in putting herself on a pedestal. The people of Mississauga seem to want and almost even need her to be on that pedestal.”
Myer Siemiatycki, Professor of Political Science, Ryerson University, National Post
“Citizens have a right to expect that a mayor will act impartially and without favour, as her oath of office requires. It is no answer to say that a public office holder may promote the financial interests of a relative where to do so also promotes the greater good. To accept this proposition would, in my view, lead over time to the erosion of public trust in municipal government.”
Justice Douglas Cunningham, public statement
“Mississauga finds itself in a very unhealthy political situation. A great many residents have come to regard any dissent as intolerable and the mayor as untouchable. This should be a matter of concern to anyone who believes in democracy, transparency and open debate…Once the image of Hazel McCallion as the benevolent matriarch came to be solidified…it became a hard-to-dislodge paradigm.”
Tom Urbaniak, author of Her Worship: Hazel McCallion and the Development of Mississauga, National Post
“It’s [the report is] a bit of strong medicine but it’s for the long-term good of the city… But there is also a point, whether we see it or not, a best-before date on all of our foreheads… She has run (the city) as a family business and as a small-town mayor at heart—the kinds of things you could do in 1961 are not the kinds of things you can do now.”
George Carlson, Councillor, Ward 11, Toronto Star
While most comments have dealt with the results of the WCD hotel and convention centre phase of the inquiry, few remark on what initiated the inquiry in the first place; questions about the nature of the partnership between Enersource and OMERS. In this case the communication was poor but the City’s deal with Enersource is a profitable one for the people of Mississauga. Also, the review of the Mayor’s Gala delayed the inquiry and release of the Report but was determined to be a non-issue by Justice Cunningham.
Most reporters write about Mayor McCallion as though she is a performer rather than a genuine advocate. And while the methodology apparent in her office is born of an earlier era, so too is her work ethic and zealous commitment to her city and its best interests as she understands them.
Many residents of Mississauga have come to love their consistently tough mayor and respect her amazing energy, achievements and unique style. However, many citizens will quietly admit that yes, it’s time for a change and this incredible mayor’s best days and ways are behind us. She has signalled this as her last term. They hope she has learned from this and moves on with council to lead this city to great things.
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