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Toronto Sun - Jul. 27, 2010 - By Michele Mandel - Columnists - firstname.lastname@example.org or 416-947-2231.
McCallion's son testifies at inquiry
MISSISSAUGA — His mother may not have been physically present for his testimony, but the looming presence of Hurricane Hazel was everywhere.
And her eldest son was doing his best to keep her out of trouble.
Peter McCallion took the stand Tuesday at the city’s public inquiry into whether his famous mother was acting inappropriately as “emissary” to push the failed $14.4 million land deal that her son was trying to broker in Mississauga’s prime downtown.
Dressed in a Johnny Cash black suit and shirt, his Stetson by his side, the divorced 57-year-old real estate agent tried valiantly to minimize his stake in the controversial transaction — and thereby his mother’s need to get involved — insisting he didn’t even know he was an owner in World Class Developments, the company formed to buy “the last best piece of land in Mississauga” and build a four-star hotel, convention centre and condos on 3.5 hectares near the Living Arts Centre.
Instead, McCallion said he was just the ideas man who put the development team together with the expectation that he’d ultimately get a commission on the land sale and another $10 million to $12 million in hawking the 2,500 new condos.
“I was basically acting as real estate agent, promoter of the development — the visionary,” he testified.
The question is how much the son with only a Grade 12 education relied on his mommy’s influence and back room involvement to secure, and then try and save, the deal.
In his opening statement Monday, commission counsel Will McDowell told Justice Douglas Cunningham that “the mayor battled for WCD to the bitter end.”
And indeed it seems the mayor’s fingerprints are all over the place.
McCallion admitted speaking often to his mother about his business dealings, that they live only five minutes apart and see each other five to six times a week.
“I let her know what I’m working on basically,” he explained. “She usually says, ‘Are you working?’”
As he added later to laughter, “She likes to drive you.”
But McCallion denied talking to the mayor in depth about the development and even complained that having the powerful woman as his mother was more of a hindrance in his business life than a benefit.
“Some people don’t want to deal with me because of a perception of a conflict,” he said.
But in this case, it seems his mom was never far away.
In 2005, he approached Murray Cook, a family friend from Streetsville, to be the front man for his project and Leo Couprie, a Thornhill importer, to put up the $750,000 down payment to buy the land from the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System (OMERS).
Hazel McCallion was the witness to the loan agreement between Couprie and the newly-formed World Class Developments.
Shortly before he left on a trip, his helpful mom witnessed another document he signed with Couprie at a Toronto dinner that gave her son shares in the development company “just in case something happened to us on the plane so my family might get some benefit out of this.”
McCallion said he threw out the trust agreement on his return, mistakenly believing it was now null and void and that he had no ownership in the company. But for a guy who insists he didn’t know until recently that he was a principal in World Class Developments, he sure acted like a worried owner. He admitted pumping more than $150,000 into the cash-starved company, including $50,000 he borrowed from TACC Construction owned by Silvio DeGasperis with a promissory note signed by him on behalf of WCD.
In fact, as city lawyer Clifford Lax pointed out at the end of the day, it turns out the mayor’s son owns a 16% stake in World Class Developments. And since his company received a $4 million settlement from OMERS when the deal went south — he’s hardly the penniless pauper who begged the city to cover his legal bill for this inquiry.
McCallion returns to the hot seat Wednesday.
Comments by others, 10, to this web-page;
Jake Report Comment
The Ram Report Comment
The Star's Article, on Monday, gave Dammning Evidence.
Madam Mayor, please RESIGN or DO NOT RUN, again. Walk out with GRACE and you will be REMEMBERED FONDLY. Persist and ALL your ACHIEVEMENTS will be OVERSHADOWED by your UnEthical Actions-Real or Perceived-, in this SCANDAL. .that we know of. .
You've LOST MY VOTE, Madam Mayor!!
Canadians Report Comment
HH Report Comment
James Report Comment
Ted-Mississauga Report Comment
The Crusher Report Comment
Andre Lafond Report Comment
Mantis Report Comment
Ms Miss Report Comment
But since her enemies can't beat her at the ballot box they are persuing a new strategy.
We know who her enemies are.
I dread the day she is not our mayor
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