101-year-old Canadian politician Hazel McCallion is far from retired. The former mayor of Mississauga has signed a contract to serve as the manager of Toronto’s airport for the next three years.
Hurricane Hazel, as the over-the-century-old politician is also known, was elected mayor of Mississauga in 1978. Her opponent in the election stated that her gender would not make her a suitable fit for the job, but nothing could be further from the truth. In the 36 years that McCalleon has been mayor, the city west of Toronto has grown from an agricultural community to Canada’s seventh largest.
McCallion stepped down as mayor in 2014 after 36 years in office, but decided not to sit idly by. As an influential figure, she supported Justin Trudeau, among others, in the election for prime minister in Canada. She also worked as a chancellor at the University of Toronto for several years, which the school praised for her “encyclopedic knowledge of politics”.
Fighting spirit and direct approach
She was offered to extend the position of director of Toronto Pearson International Airport, Canada’s largest, last week. She started her career as a director in 2017 at the age of 96 and is clearly not done with that yet. When Tom Urbaniak, a Canadian academic and author of a book on McCallion, learned she was renewing the position at age 101, he wasn’t surprised: “She stays active as long as she can. And she argued for years with the former airport director. He thought he’d beat her up. He failed to do so.”
The former mayor has been praised across Canada for her combativeness and direct approach. Doug Ford, premier of the Canadian province of Ontario, has dubbed McCalleon an “icon of Canada” for her 100th birthday. “I love it,” Ford said. “She taught me a lot as a mentor. She is always there for everyone.” Urbaniak says to the British newspaper Watchman: “She’s a wonderful figure in Ontario politics, much bigger than you’d expect from a mayor. An old prime minister told me she was the only Ontario politician who terrified him. When you talk about a problem, it gets noticed right away.”
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