THE DEMOCRATIC REPORTER
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Toronto Star - July 27, 2010 - By Phinjo Gombu Urban Affairs Reporter
Hazel McCallion pushed son’s project
Mayor Hazel McCallion was so involved in advocating for a hotel-convention centre project her son’s company was developing she once got into a yelling match with the head of OMERS, a giant pension fund that was dragging its feet on selling the piece of prime downtown property needed.
“(Mayor McCallion) is not happy that Michael Latimer (head of an OMERS subsidiary) is not selling the land to her preferred group,” president and CEO Paul Haggis wrote in an October 2005 email to Fred Biro, a senior official at the pension fund.
“She was actually yelling at me, while saying I should give the whole thing to Michael Nobrega, who of course can do no wrong as far as she was concerned,” Haggis wrote, referring to the man who now heads the pension fund. “I did a pretty good job of keeping my cool although I did suggest that threatening me was not a good idea.”
The email was part of evidence filed Tuesday at a judicial inquiry probing the mayor’s involvement in the land deal, amid questions about whether it represents a conflict of interest. Hazel McCallion’s position is that, by declaring a conflict when the project came up at city council meetings, she was fulfilling her obligations under the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act.
Much of Tuesday’s testimony by her son, Peter McCallion, revolved around whether he was actually an owner of World Class Developments — a potentially crucial issue in determining whether the mayor had a personal interest in ensuring the project’s success.
He had called himself the “visionary” behind a $1.5 billion scheme for a hotel, convention centre and condominium project near Mississauga’s city hall, from which he hoped to make millions of dollars in profits. He incorporated World Class Developments in 2005, and obtained loans and investment funding for it.
Mayor McCallion’s appointment and telephone logs during the period reveal that she met with her son and a number of his business associates, including Thornhill businessman Leo Couprie and Vaughan-based developers Tony DeCicco and John Dipoce.
But Peter McCallion told the inquiry that until a month ago he was confused and clueless about whether he was legally an owner of the company.
In his testimony, he attempted to distance himself from the idea that he held an ownership stake at the time of his mother’s involvement. He said he believed he was only an agent for the company, hoping to make a profit when the deal closed and he was granted the right to sell more than 2,000 condominium units.
However, the inquiry was presented with evidence to the contrary, including:
* A single-page trust agreement, signed by Couprie and McCallion and witnessed by his mother’s signature at a Toronto restaurant in 2007. The agreement made him a beneficiary in the company, with Couprie holding in trust an 80 per cent share for McCallion’s future benefit. After bringing in a new partner, McCallion ended up with a 16 per cent stake.
Peter McCallion’s changing testimony prompted Mississauga lawyer Clifford Lax’s sacracastic comment: “The only person wrong was you for believing you were not a principal.”
Meanwhile, when issues involving the hotel project came up at city hall meetings, Mayor McCallion was, except on one occasion, declaring a conflict of interest.
But Peter McCallion told commission counsel William McDowell that his mother never raised the issue of a potential conflict with him. He said that wasn’t why he changed his affidavit to state categorically that he was not an owner in the company. He believed he had made a mistake, he said.
Peter McCallion’s ownership status goes to the heart of the inquiry, along with the potential profits he might have made if the $1.5 billion project had gone through — not just through condo sales, but also commissions and profits in a company in which he held a 16 per cent stake.
Asked about his mother witnessing the signing of the trust agreement, McCallion insisted the mayor knew nothing about the details. She just happened to be at the Pier 4 dinner with Couprie and his wife the night it was signed, and she witnessed it as a favour.
He said he believed it was a temporary arrangement, made informally before leaving on a trip to Vietnam with Couprie, which he “discarded” when he returned. Couprie provided the document to the inquiry.
The trust agreement was signed just as World Class Developments’ conditional agreement to buy the land from OMERS was coming to fruition.
Comments by others - 0 - to this web-page at time of posting;
Jul 28, 2010 10:50 AM
Hazel McCallion Scandal Grows In Every Direction
Peter is not an owner despite the long list of docments several of which he signed one of which his mother -- Mayor Hazel McCallion -- witnessed. He took out a loan as a principal and in his name put the money in the corporate bank account. Yup not an owner no sir. Oh but hey he would get a commission on the condo units sold that was his take. The BS meter broke yesterday during his testimony. Wow the revelations are sickening.
* Agree 3
The Mississauga Muse
Jul 28, 2010 9:39 AM
re: "McCallion will retake the witness stand this morning when the hearing resumes at 10 a.m." CORRECTION! It's 10:30.
A document accidentally surfaced yesterday and the proverbial s*** hit the MYTHissauga fan. Judging from Peter McCallion's lawyer's reaction she wants some company/ies and/or the money/s on that document redacted. [Cut-and-pasted from the Mississauga Judicial Inquiry website], "TODAY'S HEARING WILL START AT 10:30 A.M. INSTEAD OF 10:00 A.M. SO THAT THE COMMISSIONER CAN RESOLVE THE ISSUES REGARDING PERMISSIBLE EVIDENCE RAISED AT THE END OF THE DAY YESTERDAY." That's all I'll say right now.
* Agree 1
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