It is truly remarkable, then to find a mayor that has been in office as long as Mississauga’s Hazel McCallion. First elected in 1978, Hazel McCallion has held the title of Mayor of Mississauga for a continuous period stretching almost 30 years. Her most recent mandate was handed to her by Mississaugans in November of 2006, when she was easily re-elected to an eleventh term with 91 per cent of votes, at the age of 86.
As you might expect, Hazel McCallion has seen a lot change in the Mississauga area over the last thirty years, both from the standpoint of technology and population. When she was first elected, the city was large for the time, with a population of over 200, 000 people. Today, the city is one of the very largest in Canada and even North America, with more than 704, 000 people calling the area home. Factor in the challenges that result from a population growth that extreme and the accompanying pressures caused by transportation, crime, and pollution, and it becomes clear that it takes an adaptable leader to keep things running smoothly.
Hazel McCallion proved herself equal to the job of running such a diverse city back when she was first elected, before the city’s boom. In November of 1978 a Canadian Pacific train derailed in the city. The train was loaded with toxic materials. The entire city was placed under evacuation orders for health reasons. Predictably, the press, others, and city officials looked to the mayor’s office for guidance, and McCallion proved up to the task. The city amazed Canada and the world community by evacuating its entire population of 200, 000 residents for a full week, with the accident resulting in no serious injuries or loss of life.
But, What About…
McCallion’s illustrious political career is the product of a combination of several factors. Unafraid to speak her mind and get involved in any situation, she raised more than just a few eyebrows during her tenth term in office when in April, she talked a man out of committing suicide after a five hour stand off.
In addition to her frankness and her candor, McCallion has stalwartly refused to endorse either of the several Canadian political parties which run on the provinces and federal levels, in an effort to better work with whatever person is elected to office. She is likewise credited with ideas of government that were well before her time, running the city as one would a business.