May 30, 2023

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‘Hurricane Hazel’: At 101, an icon of Canadian politics hasn’t finished spinning

'Hurricane Hazel': At 101, an icon of Canadian politics hasn't finished spinning

‘Hazel the Hurricane’: At 101, Canadian Politics Icon Isn’t Completely Rounded

Hazel McCallion, 101, has lived many lives and has no intention of slowing down: She was recently re-appointed to the board of directors of Toronto’s airport, the country’s largest, after serving as mayor for 36 years and a professional hockey player.

His zeal earned him the fame of “Hyricane Hazel”. “I don’t know how I got that title back…I know I’m moving fast,” she laughed in an interview with AFP in Mississauga, a Toronto suburb that she runs and which is organizing an exhibition about his life.

This workaholic, on whom nothing seems to stop, says he has a mantra in life: “Work, do your homework.”

“Working hard never kills anyone, that’s what my mom taught me. If you want to achieve your goals, you have to work hard,” advises this little white-haired woman, squatting in a rocking chair.

Born in 1921 in Port Daniel, a coastal village in eastern Quebec, Hazel is the youngest of five children. Her father works in fishing. His mother is a nurse.

At the age of 16, she left the family farm to continue her education before resigning to join secretarial school, due to lack of resources. She began her career during World War II in an engineering firm where she worked for over 20 years.

At the same time, I played on a professional women’s hockey team in Montreal, and I paid $5 for the game, which was a lot of money at the time. This fan of the Maple Leafs, the Toronto team, is going to leave his teeth there.

In 1951, she married Sam McCallion and had three children with him.

“She wasn’t always there, but she was there when needed,” says one of her sons, Peter, as he describes the “wonderful” grandmother of her only granddaughter.

– Political retirement at 93 –

Inspired by former Ottawa Mayor Charlotte Wheaton, the first female mayor of a major city in Canada, and Margaret Thatcher, she chose to enter politics in the 1960s.

In 1978, she won the mayor of Mississauga in part because of her indifference to her opponent’s sexual comments.

Today, however, she concludes any discussion on this topic: “It was not difficult at all. I had support from men in both the worlds of business and politics,” she says, considering herself “very lucky.”

He marked so deeply the history of Mississauga, a city of more than 700,000 people today, that radically changed its face in just a few decades.

During her first year as mayor, she had to deal with a major railway accident: a derailment and then a train explosion laden with toxic substances.

Nearly 220,000 residents, or three-quarters of the city, were evacuated in the event of an emergency and there were no deaths or serious injuries. It gave the “Mississauga miracle” its national status.

“To live a happy life, you have to be very positive and feel like you’re taking action. You can’t be thinking about yourself all the time,” she slips to explain her commitment.

Held in office for twelve states, she has a long-standing record due in part to her “very down-to-earth popularity,” “accessibility,” and “candor,” explains Tom Urbaniac, author of a book on the city’s development.

Hazel McCallion tends to be conservative but very pragmatic. Au fil des décennies, elle a changé d’avis souvent selon l’opinion publique », indique ce professeur de politique à l’université du Cap-Breton (Nouvelle-Ecosse, est du Canada) qui rappelle qu’éelle di a « appuyvers political parties “.

The girl who considers herself a “builder” won the title of “Canada’s most popular mayor” in 2011, three years before she retired from politics at the age of 93.

Hazel McCallion, Stamp University, enjoys gardening and shooting videos for charities. She is still attentive to current events and wears, and her jacket, a yellow and blue scarf in the colors of Ukraine.

“I have lived 100 years and have never been pessimistic about what is happening in the world today,” she says.

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