Greater Toronto: Hazel McCallion, an icon of Canadian politics, renews her employment contract at the age of 101 | International

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Hazel McCallion, at her home, in a file image.KEITH BEATY (Getty Images)

Nobody retires Hazel McCallion. The Canadian politician, who was in charge of the city of Mississauga (Ontario) as mayor for 36 years, celebrated the renewal of her employment contract a few days ago. At 101 years old, she will continue to be part of the board of directors of the Greater Toronto Airport Authority, the body that is in charge of managing the Lester B. Pearson airport, the busiest in Canada. She has held this position since 2017, where she also serves as a representative of the federal government.

In announcing the continuation of his contract, Omar Alghabra, the Federal Minister of Transport, underscored his decades of experience in community life and expressed his hope that his successes continue at Canada’s largest airfield. In 2019, before the ravages of the pandemic began to be felt, Lester B. Pearson Airport served more than 50 million passengers.

Awarded in 2005 with the Order of Canada, Hazel McCallion is one of the most significant political figures in the country. She was mayor of Mississauga, the third most populous city in Ontario, on the outskirts of Toronto, between 1978 and 2014. She decided not to run for re-election at 93 years old. Her way of managing her public affairs and her direct and often jocular tone made her stand out. In February 2003, she was hit by a pickup truck. She was in the hospital for two days. Leaving it, she declared before the microphones: “The truck is still under repair.”

McCallion won 12 times at the polls and won re-election twice by acclamation, despite being averse to campaigning and political donations. The media has labeled her a “fiscal conservative.” One of her most famous phrases in her years as mayor was: “I learned to do things with few resources. And for that reason, today, I only spend taxpayers’ money as if it were my own, which is not much. The people of Mississauga love that.” However, McCallion is also associated with a liberal view on other issues. In 2015, she publicly supported Justin Trudeau in the federal election that brought the Liberals to power. Although the image of her as mayor of her has carried a stain, according to the newspaper archives: in the 80s she was singled out for a conflict of interest, in a decision related to the planning of some land.

Born in 1921 in Port-Daniel (Quebec), Hazel McCallion completed secretarial studies. She has pointed out at various times that she did not make it to university classes due to the economic hardships of her family. She played some years ice hockey in a women’s professional league. She later worked in private companies and she married a photographer in 1952 (who died in 1997); the couple had three children. McCallion chaired the Anglican Youth Association of Canada. Subsequently, she began to stand out in municipal politics at a time when women in the country were not abundant in that sphere, until her arrival at the Mississauga main office.

Hazel McCallion’s agenda will not only have spaces reserved for her activities at the airport agency. On March 17, the University of Toronto announced that McCallion will continue to serve as special counselor at its Mississauga campus, a position she has held since 2015. On the day of the announcement, university officials referred to her as “an invaluable resource ”. The Canadian continues to show that the author of her famous nickname was not wrong: she has been known for decades as “Hurricane Hazel.”

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