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National Post - Jul. 26, 2010 - By Megan O'Toole - email@example.com
Mississauga mayor lobbied for son’s hotel deal, inquiry told
Mississauga Mayor Hazel McCallion pushed for a deal that would see her “preferred group” of buyers build a hotel complex in the city centre several years ago — and that group included her son, developer Peter McCallion, a judicial inquiry heard today.
In delivering his opening statement upon the resumption of the inquiry probing the deal, commission counsel William McDowell said Peter McCallion’s company, World Class Developments, “enlisted the Mayor as an emissary” to get the deal done.
“The Mayor was keen to see the hotel built, and devoted her considerable persuasive powers to seeking concessions from Oxford,” Mr. McDowell said. Oxford, one of the vendors in the deal, is a subsidiary of pension giant OMERS.
The Mayor saw OMERS chief Michael Nobrega “at regular intervals on the Enersource board, and she sometimes spoke with him at the edges of board meetings to plead the case for WCD,” Mr. McDowell said.
The inquiry is expected to hear evidence showing the Mayor aimed to help World Class finance the $14.4-million deal, which was ultimately terminated.
“The Mayor battled for WCD to the bitter end,” Mr. McDowell said.
When the deal fell apart, World Class received a $4-million settlement, the inquiry has heard. The Mayor was involved in discussions on that settlement, which later fuelled controversy in city council, Mr. McDowell noted.
In her own opening statement, the Mayor’s lawyer, Elizabeth McIntyre, denied suggestions OMERS was “strongarmed” into the settlement to preserve a good relationship with the city.
“Hazel McCallion is a hands-on Mayor [but] at all times, the Mayor acted in the best interests of the city,” Ms. McIntyre said.
The hotel and conference centre was an important project for the city, the inquiry has heard, and one councillors hoped could attract new business to Mississauga’s core. Ms. McIntyre questioned Mr. McDowell’s use of the term “preferred group” in relation to World Class, noting there were no other potential buyers for the city centre hotel lands at the time.
“In reality, it was the only group,” Ms. McIntyre said. The Mayor, she noted, “did her best for the city and not for WCD.”
The inquiry has been on hiatus for two weeks but is slated to continue with witnesses all week and into next month.
Posted in: Mississauga & GTA, Posted Toronto
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