Tributes pour in following death of Mississauga’s Hazel McCallion

Jan 30, 2023 | News

Former long-time Mississauga, Ont., mayor Hazel McCallion is being remembered as a friend and a mentor to many after her death Sunday peacefully at her home at the age of 101.

Her death has left a large impact on major politicians from all levels of government in Canada.

“My dear friend Hazel was an extraordinary woman who wore many hats: a businessperson, an athlete, a politician, and one of Canada’s – and the world’s – longest-serving mayors, said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in an official statement issued by his office.

Trudeau later added that she always put people first and stood by that promise from her first term to her last.

“She inspired countless others, including myself, in her decades of tireless and selfless service. I will miss her as a friend, and I’ll always cherish the conversations we had, and the wisdom she shared over the years,” he said.

“On behalf of all Canadians, Sophie and I offer our condolences to Hazel’s family, friends, and the people of Mississauga. We will remember her as a trailblazer whose career in politics and service to her community will remain an inspiration to all of us. But mostly, we will remember her as a dear friend,” he added.

Nicknamed “Hurricane Hazel” for her bold political style, McCallion sat in the mayor’s chair for 36 years from 1978 to 2014. During her tenure, she led Mississauga into being one of Canada’s largest cities..

Ontario Premier Doug Ford in a statement described his close connection to McCallion and had considered her his “dear friend and mentor.”

“There isn’t a single person who met Hazel who didn’t leave in awe of her force of personality. I count myself incredibly lucky to have called Hazel my friend over these past many years. As I entered the world of politics, I was fortunate enough to learn from her wisdom and guidance, which she selflessly offered until the very end,” Ford said.

“On behalf of all Ontarians, I want to extend my condolences to Hazel’s family, especially her children Peter, Linda and Paul. Thank you for sharing your mother with us for so many years,” his statement added.

“Her city, and our province, are better places because of the amazing life of Hazel McCallion. Rest easy, my friend,” said Ford.

Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie, who succeeded McCallion in 2014 due to her retirement, issued an emotional and lengthy statement yesterday paying tribute to the city’s first female mayor.

“Today, we grieve the loss of Mississauga’s matriarch, Hazel McCallion – a fierce and passionate leader who touched the lives of many and who served as an inspiration to women in politics across the country. On behalf of the City of Mississauga, I offer my condolences to the entire McCallion family, who are mourning the loss of their mother and grandmother today.”

The Mississauga Mayor described how much the city had thrived under McCallion’s leadership.

“She helped grow and shape Mississauga from farmland and fruit trees into the seventh-largest city in Canada with a quality of life that is “second to none,” she said.

Crombie revealed McCallion had inspired her to run in her place as mayor.

“I will miss Hazel, not only as a mentor but as a friend. She was the driving force behind my decision to put my name on the ballot to succeed her as Mayor of this great city. I wouldn’t be the leader I am today if it wasn’t for her support and sage advice,” the statement explained.

She also said McCallion would still help give back to the community in her final years and she would always “cherish those moments and hold them dear to her heart.”

“I’ll miss the time we spent together on evenings and weekends, whether that was cutting ribbons for new businesses, raising funds for charity, walking in parades or speaking at festivals,” she said.

Crombie closed off by saying that “Her legacy and spirit will live on in Mississauga for generations to come.”

Toronto Mayor John Tory remembered what he called “the iconic mayor” in his statement.

“To me, she was also a friend and a mentor. I spoke with her often and had the great privilege of meeting with her twice in the past two weeks, most recently on Tuesday when she was as engaged as ever despite her illness,” he said.

“I feel so fortunate to have known Hazel for decades and to have been able to call her a friend. I’m thankful for her kindness, her skill, her quick wit and her bluntness.”

“On behalf of all Toronto residents, I want to express my condolences to the entire McCallion family, all of her friends, loved ones, and countless colleagues, and to the people of Mississauga who supported her through 12 municipal elections,” he added.

“Hazel, we love you and we already miss you. May you now rest in peace after a long life that was so well-lived,” he closed.

Funeral arrangements for McCallion have yet to be announced.