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Managing Mississauga For Almost 30 Years

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By Author: Rob Parker
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Canadian politics are truly unpredictable, and it is rare to find a leader that has served continuously in any capacity for a lengthy period of time. This can be particularly true in municipal politics, where hands-on campaigns mean that the grassroots truly has a say in the outcome of any election.

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% of the votes, at the age of 86.

As you might expect, Hazel McCallion has seen a lot change in the Mississauga area over the past thirty years, both in terms 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 among the very largest in Canada and even North America, with more than 704,000 people calling the area home. Factor in the challenges that arise from a population growth that extreme and the resulting pressures caused by transportation, pollution, and crime, and it becomes obvious that it takes an adaptable leader to keep things running smoothly.

Hazel McCallion proved herself equal to the task 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, and the entire city was placed under evacuation orders for health reasons. Predictably, the press, city officials, and others looked to the mayor's office for guidance, and McCallion proved up to the task. The city amazed Canada and the international 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.

McCallion's illustrious political career is the result of a combination of several factors. Unafraid to speak her mind and become involved in any situation, she raised more than 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 outspokenness and her forthrightness, McCallion has stalwartly refused to endorse any one of the several Canadian political parties which run on the provincial and federal levels, in order to better work with whatever person is elected to office. She is also credited with ideas of government that were well before her time, running the city as one would a business.

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