MISSISSAUGA, Ontario – Hazel McCallion, small in stature but large in Canadian politics during her 12 terms as mayor of Mississauga, died Sunday. She was 101.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced the death of the woman affectionately known as “Hurricane Hazel,” noting that she died early Sunday, CBC News reported. McCallion remained as mayor until she was 93.
“Hazel was the true definition of a public servant,” Ford said in a statement. “There isn’t a single person who met Hazel who didn’t leave in awe of her force of personality. I count myself incredibly lucky to have called Hazel my friend over these past many years.”
“Hazel was not only my mentor and political role model but the reason why so many women were inspired to enter politics,” Bonnie Crombie, who succeeded McCallion as Mississauga’s mayor, said in a statement.
McCallion served as mayor of Mississauga, Canada’s seventh-largest city, from 1978 until she retired in 2014, according to CTV News.
She guided the city through some of its worst events, including a train derailment that occurred months after she took office, the news outlet reported. The train, carrying toxic chemicals, derailed in a heavily populated area, resulting in a large explosion. McCallion, along with Peel Regional Police, oversaw the evacuation of more than 200,000 residents, CTV News reported.
In 2006, McCallion ended a five-hour standoff with a man who threatened to kill himself by demanding the man surrender so police and firefighters could attend to more important matters, The Associated Press reported.
On her 80th birthday, McCallion said her “toughness” came from her rural upbringing in the Gaspe region of Quebec, according to the news organization.
“You’ve got to stand up for what you believe in, which I always have,” McCallion said at the time.
McCallion was beaten in her first political race in 1966 but never lost again in 17 subsequent elections.
One candidate who opposed her in 1985 said that running against McCallion was like “challenging somebody’s favorite grandmother.”
“My dear friend Hazel was an extraordinary woman who wore many hats: a businessperson, an athlete, a politician, and one of Canada’s — and the world’s — longest-serving mayors,” Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in a statement. Nicknamed ‘Hurricane Hazel’ for her bold political style, she was unstoppable.”
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