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Toronto Sun - Jul. 28(?), 2010 - By Michele Mandel - Columnists - email@example.com or 416-947-2231.
Hazel McCallion's son keeps it under his hat
MISSISSAUGA - It's not easy being the son of the nation's most famous mayor.
For poor Peter McCallion, the divorced real estate agent with a Grade 12 education who's never risen to the success of his mom, it's meant chauffeuring Hazel to events, dining out with the movers and shakers she knows, cleaning out her Streetsville pond and acting the fool when you've landed your mom in a mess of political trouble.
It's also meant getting rid of pesky squirrels from her fireplace.
"And that's not easy," he told his mom's lawyer during some "sweetheart" questioning Wednesday.
But being her son sure seems to have some advantages.
Like when you're involved in a hugely lucrative land deal in Mississauga, you can pick up the phone to the mayor and you and your partners can get a meeting at the nearest steakhouse faster than you can say "Hurricane."
And when you run into some roadblocks along the way, mommy will unleash her fury to get what you want.
Of course, that's not the story the junior McCallion was spinning on his second day at a judicial inquiry examining whether the mayor used her office to push the failed $14.4-million land deal her son was trying to broker.
Instead, the black-clad cowboy maintained that he never discussed his business matters in detail with his mom even if they did see each other five to six times a week and she wasn't involved in his plan to buy "the last best piece of land in Mississauga" near Square One shopping plaza and erect a four-star hotel, conference centre and condos.
McCallion said he was just the ideas man who put the World Class Developments team together with the expectation that he'd ultimately get a sales commission from the land's owner, OMERS, the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System, and another $10 to $12 million from selling the 2,500 condo units. While he signed an agreement in 2007 that ultimately made him a 16% shareholder in the company, he insisted that he'd never understood the document.
Told he'd "mislead" his mom, he disagreed, saying he told her what he believed at the time: that he was just WCD's broker, and had no idea he was actually an owner of the firm.
Now that may make him look like a fool, but better a fool than a duplicitous developer counting on his mother to make the deal happen.
But Clifford Lax, the city's pitbull of a lawyer in a salmon bow tie, went through a painstaking chronology of events with itemized calendar entries and voice messages showing both McCallions in the thick of WCD business, with countless private meetings with the mayor and key players involved in the WCD bid.
In one of many on her calendar, mom and son had a private dinner meeting on Aug. 29, 2005 with two WCD investors with a notation that it was to discuss "in camera issues re OMERS..."
In camera proceedings are supposed to be private and not shared by the mayor with her son and his investors.
But McCallion wouldn't confirm that he was talking about the deal during their frequent rendezvous nor could he explain the many calls made to his mom by one of the shareholders.
"So far I've asked you about every meeting and every phone call and you have no recollection about any of them?" Lax demanded.
"They were over two years ago," McCallion replied.
Meanwhile, it seems his mom was hard at work. In one e-mail, an OMERS executive complained about "a rather spirited talk with Her Worship" where the mayor threatened to go to the media "unless we did what she wanted" and sold the land to her "preferred group."
"She was actually yelling at me," he wrote. "I did suggest that threatening me was not a good idea."
But her loyal son continues to stand by her, insisting there's been no conflict of interest and this inquiry is unnecessary.
"I didn't do anything wrong," McCallion told reporters.
"Do you think your mother did?"
"No, I do not."
And with that, the famous mayor's son strode away from the cameras and no doubt to do some extra chores.
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