THE DEMOCRATIC REPORTER
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Toronto Star - Oct. 29, 2009 - By Royson James usually appears Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, email@example.com -
James: Mississauga closes ears as inquiry set to begin
Today's villains could be tomorrow's heroes – even in Mississauga, where angry citizens Wednesday blasted their city council for daring to question the integrity of their legendary mayor, described as the Michael Jordan of local politics, and "potentially the greatest mayor in Canadian history," maybe even the world.
Council endured the tongue-lashing, seasoned with biting rhetoric and ominous warnings of electoral defeat, but only after relenting to cut the mayor a little slack.
Hazel McCallion won't be specifically probed for once failing to declare a conflict of interest involving one of her son's land deals. (She had declared an interest on three other occasions.) But McCallion's not home free. Neither are a band of developers who ply their trade in Toronto's neighbouring city with world-class ambitions.
Council voted 7-4 to proceed with a judicial inquiry into land deals, the improper recording of council minutes, McCallion's meetings in a Toronto hotel with her realtor son and his business partners looking to do a deal with the city, plus a shadowy trail of business deals the city's had with developers such as OMERS, the pension fund with interests in everything from the Toronto Maple Leafs to real estate.
The inquiry is not about Hazel, Councillor Carolyn Parrish told citizens. They laughed, hissed and jeered. "It's about the murky things that have been going around our city for a long time," she said.
The citizens closed their ears.
Abort the inquiry before it drags Mississauga's good name through the mud and taints their beloved mayor, the 140 citizens said. Besides, the estimated $2.5 million price tag is a poor use of taxpayers' money, the citizens said, many of them the old guard of Mississauga, former citizens of the year, developer friends.
Council stood firm.
Some citizens cried hot tears, others waxed indignant.
"A judicial inquiry is ugly, it takes on a life of its own and it destroys people," said realtor Jim Murray. "There's no opportunity to put this toothpaste back in the tube."
Mega-builder Harold Shipp said councillors are using the inquiry to accomplish in the courts that which they cannot do at the polls: get rid of McCallion – maybe even stress her into an early death, a suggestion that brought gasps from the crowd. "When she does (die), I want her in this room," said Shipp, to enthusiastic applause. He didn't say whether he wanted McCallion's remains buried below the mayor's podium, à la Westminster Abbey, or for her to lie in state there. Either sentiment would be universally embraced.
Still, Councillor Carmen Corbasson insisted the probe examine whether it is appropriate for a mayor or councillor to be holding private hotel meetings brokered with her son's real estate partners.
The Municipal Conflict of Interest Act may be silent on this, but such action is clearly inappropriate and she wants the inquiry to make recommendations that will guide politicians all across Ontario.
But it was Councillor Nando Iannicca who brilliantly encapsulated the issue: "The Lady of Justice is blind for a reason. It matters not who she judges over ... whether that's your mayor, whether that's (your) brother, whether that's the parish priest.
"At the end of the day, I was not elected for my love of the mayor; I was elected to do the right thing. This, as difficult as it is on an emotional level, on an ethical, moral, do-the-right thing level, it's one of the easiest decisions I've ever had to make, though I've never regretted a decision more."
The 7-4 vote sets a standard that Mississauga residents will one day come to appreciate, maybe earlier than they could possibly imagine.
Comments by others, 14, to this web-page;
Therese - Oct 29, 2009 4:31 PM
Cost of inquiry cost of democracy
Could it really be true that no one in Mississauga turned out to champion council's decision to have the inquiry?That Shipp and company were attempting to persuade council to do otherwise shows their true colours. What is there to hide? There are some citizens in Mississauga who have been waiting for this for a long time. Hazel's best before date is long, long past due. The province must step in and limit the number of terms mayors may reign.
* Agree 1 - Disagree 1
JiminyGlick - Oct 29, 2009 2:41 PM
With the development that has occurred in Mississauga since the mid-70's, a chimpanzee could have kept this city in the black. Do you have any idea how much revenue all that development has created? To claim Hazel is one of the best Mayor's ever is pure folly. One of the oldest and longest serving, yes, but best? Not a chance. Poor, poor Miserysauga. A sea of rooftops, strip malls, and cars, and late transit buses. But that Hazel, she's one of the best!
* Agree 2 - Disagree
hr1551 - Oct 29, 2009 2:07 PM
It is just natural when you are right for a long time, you gain false confidence that you are always right. I am surprised to see she's been reelected for so long, I won't vote for her simply because she is been there too long. Sorry, her opponent may not be that great but certainly we can have more power over him/her than the current mayor. At least he/she will not be so "proud" of what Mrs. Hazel McCallion has done right now.
* Agree 2 - Disagree 1
CanadianBiker - Oct 29, 2009 2:03 PM
to refer to Mississauga as "Toronto's neighbouring city with world-class ambitions". Seems to me that Toronto has been declaring itself "world-class" (whatever that may be) for years. Problem is, the world ain't listening. Right or wrong, Hazel probably IS the best mayor Canada has ever seen, something no Toronto mayor will ever lay claim to.
* Agree 3 - Disagree 3
Canadian - Oct 29, 2009 1:09 PM
If the US president is out after 8 years or 2 terms so should the rest of the elected officials. (Hazel McCallion was already in court on conflict of interest issues back in the 80s over her own property.) Term limits keep the conga-line jiving out the door. Get elected for something else if you're that awesome. There should be a wack of other judicial inquiries considering all of the messes we've witnessed across Canada.
* Agree 1 - Disagree 2
Musclehead - Oct 29, 2009 12:22 PM
If your looking for a true, fair and impartial democracy, let me know when you find it, ‘cause let me tell you when every thing stinks, it's amazing how the ones who smell the least get dragged through the mud. I can say she looks out for the best interest of Mississauga first. Problem is, she has control and others want it. Who would not give advice to their kids, in addition she presented the conflict. Under any other circumstances that is the status quo, enter Parrish and her ambitions, say goodbye to $2.5 million tax dollars. It’s called a political coup. This is not how democracy works.
* Agree 3 - Disagree 5
Musclehead - Oct 29, 2009 11:39 AM
Carolyn Parrish is on a witch hunt to forward her own interest. It is my belief that the 140 who showed up represent the moral majority and do not want a spend of $2.5 million to appease Parrish. This is a pure and simple power grab! As a voted official is it not the responsibility to represent the majority? Reality suggests rather than an inquiry, have an election. If and when Hazel wins, I will be fully expecting Parrish's resignation!!!! In fact, why is she even allowed in politics after the federal fiasco??
* Agree 5 - Disagree 8
RobtheRealist - Oct 29, 2009 11:30 AM
Truth be known that almost anyone could have allowed developers to buy up surrounding farmland and build single family homes that will haunt Mississauga with the worst urban sprawl in the GTA for decades to come. The time to pay the piper is coming for the Mississ with little or no land available for cheap anymore the developers are getting more creative and using insiders to get there millions in profits. If Hazel didn't-and still doesn't know better, she really should think about leaving on a semi high note.
* Agree 7 - Disagree 1
bardrow - Oct 29, 2009 11:28 AM
It seems that the opposition to an inquiry is coming from real estate people and developers . Do they have a reason to fear an inquiry?
* Agree 9 - Disagree 1
bookgirl73 - Oct 29, 2009 11:28 AM
While I appreciate the effort that citizens who spoke at the council meeting yesterday went to, they didn't represent me or my concerns about Mississauga's government. They had no grasp of the real issue. Anyone who has pride in Canada and out democratic processes would not have spoke in opposition to the judicial inquiry. Sad that those were the only voices represented.
* Agree 9 - Disagree 2
TA - Oct 29, 2009 11:15 AM
.........and has had a great career .....the "bashers", like Carolyn Parrish, will NOW hopefully be seen for what they are and NOT be re-elected!
* Agree 6 - Disagree 11
46 Knucklehead - Oct 29, 2009 10:41 AM
I don't beleive that limiting terms of elected positions is that great an idea. The problem lies with an electorate that turns out in low numbers thus allowing weak incumbents to glide straight back into office. Stimulating debate locally so that more citizens are brought into the process and cleaning up the image of local councils being controllted by developers and you will see that better candidates will enter the fray.
* Agree 9 - Disagree 3
northernlimits - Oct 29, 2009 10:24 AM
2.5 million is an awful lot of money for an inquiry. I wish it didn't have to be this way. Mayor McCallion has had an exemplary career. She is one of Canada's best-loved politicians and nobody wants her career to end on this note. I hope it works out for her but the taxpayers should also have the confidence in their political institutions. Toronto is going to face a similar issue with their CNE / Hotel deal and the politicians should take note that this is really the only solution. So suck it up and get to the truth it will set you free.
* Agree 13 - Disagree 1
Big Ed from Pickering - Oct 29, 2009 10:08 AM
No matter what political group, elected officials should have their positions limited to, at most, two terms. No matter whether an official does a fantastic job or not, being in control of a position for too long is too tempting to indulge in conflicts of interest.
* Agree 10 - Disagree 6
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