Tributes pour in for former mayor of Mississauga Hazel McCallion after her death

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Published January 29, 2023 at 11:20 am

Hazel McCallion

Hazel McCallion, who led one of Canada’s largest cities into her 90s, died Sunday morning, leaving behind a legacy of feisty advocacy and more than three decades of nearly unchallenged leadership.

Known affectionately as “Hurricane Hazel,” the longtime mayor of Mississauga, Ont., may have been diminutive, but was an outspoken political powerhouse.

Word of McCallion’s death came in a Sunday morning statement from Ontario Premier Doug Ford, who said she died peacefully at her home in Mississauga early Sunday morning at the age of 101.

Ford said McCallion, who he called a “dear friend and mentor,” was the definition of a public servant, having led the transformation of the city west of Toronto into a major urban centre.

“Hazel will be missed dearly by the people that she so faithfully served,” Ford said. “Her city, and our province, are better places because of the amazing life of Hazel McCallion.”

McCallion was widely respected by other politicians, even many of those with whom she did not mince words, and was even more revered by constituents, who voted her into office with landslide victories for 12 successive terms.

She garnered more than 90 per cent of the mayoral vote several terms in a row despite not campaigning for decades, instead asking those who wanted to make a donation to her campaign to give the money to a charity or a cultural fund.

McCallion ultimately decided to bow out at age 93, leaving the mayor’s office 36 years after she was first elected. On her 80th birthday she attributed “toughness” from her rural upbringing in the Gaspe, Que., region to her longevity and political success.

“You’ve got to stand up for what you believe in, which I always have,” McCallion said at the time.

Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie, McCallion’s successor, called her the city’s matriarch and said she served as an inspiration for women in Canadian politics.

“Hurricane Hazel inspired countless women to speak out and have their voices heard, to take the leap into politics and demand a seat at the decision-making table,” Crombie said in a statement.

Crombie said McCallion continued to live a life of “service before self” long after her time in politics, whether that was by raising funds to build a new hospital, supporting the local arts community or helping to ensure seniors could age with grace.

“Everything she did was for the betterment of our city and to ensure that even long after her time, Mississauga thrives,” she said.

Tributes continued to pour in for McCallion on Sunday morning, including:

 

 

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