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Torstar Network - Sept. 18, 2009 - By ?
Mayor at meetings about son's project
Mississauga Mayor Hazel McCallion joined at least two private meetings last year involving her son's company and a $14.4 million land deal, even though zoning for a hotel he hoped to build near City Hall was under active consideration by council.
Although the mayor declared a conflict of interest when the hotel project came before council for a vote in April 2008, court documents show McCallion participated in discussions between City staff, the developer and a prospective hotel operator just over a month before council was to vote on the application.
She was involved again at a critical Dec. 15 meeting with the owner of the vacant property that Peter McCallion's company, World Class Developments, was trying to buy — when the deal was clearly unravelling.
"You cannot absolve yourself completely from major issues involving the city," McCallion said this week, defending her involvement. She added that she'd always had a vision for a hotel/convention centre in the vacant space adjacent to the Living Arts Centre.
The meetings, both before and after the mayor's public declarations of a conflict of interest, are described in documents lodged in court by Tony DeCicco, the company's general manager, to support a countersuit against the landowner after the deal fell through.
The affidavits provided by DeCicco and Peter McCallion provide a rare glimpse into the business and legal wrestling that go on as major projects move through the approvals process at Mississauga City Hall.
In his sworn document, dated Aug. 24, Peter McCallion indicates he was a principal in World Class Developments, the company De Cicco joined in fall 2007.
The 18-page affidavit offers a blow-by-blow account of how Peter McCallion first became interested in developing the land between 2004 and 2005 on behalf of his client, Leo Couprie.
It states that Peter McCallion approached Michael Nobrega, president and CEO of OMERS, the Ontario municipal employees' pension plan, to purchase the land. OMERS also owns Square One and Nobrega sits on the board of Enersource as a minority shareholder in Mississauga's hydro utility.
Asked about the appropriateness of being present at discussions over a project her son was promoting, McCallion said her understanding of conflict-of-interest rules was that they apply only to council votes.
McCallion also said World Class Developments wasn't her son's company. She said she understood that Peter McCallion had filed a correction to his affidavit stating that, while he did represent the company, he was not a principal. The Star was unable to confirm such a correction in court files.
Peter McCallion could not be reached for comment, and DeCicco did not return calls.
Toronto lawyer George Rust-D'Eye, an expert in municipal law, said conflict provisions should be interpreted on a case-by-case basis. But they broadly state that once an elected official becomes aware of having a direct, indirect or attributed financial interest in a matter, he or she should declare it whenever the matter is considered at a council or committee meeting.
Comments by others, 3, to this web-page;
Uatu Sep 19, 2009 6:44 PM
"I am answering it to the best of my ability. You can come to your own conclusion."
Yes we can, Madam Mayor. The inevitable conclusion is that you have violated the (misplaced, in my opinion) trust of the citizens of Mississauga. What other possible conclusion is there? If you can't understand that then you have no business in office.
* Agree 1
DeValera Sep 19, 2009 4:30 PM
at 88, too late to change?
More proof that the best days of managing our affairs are behind. Thank you for your previous service and please stop talking about running again next year.
* Agree 2
Uatu Sep 18, 2009 11:22 AM
Hazel McCallion, Michael Norberg, OMERS, Enersource, and conflict of interest. Who would have thought all of these would have turned up in the same news story? Hard to believe, isn't it.
* Agree 1
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