Hurricane Hazel under attack

The National Post reports that prominent Mississauga city councillor Carolyn Parrish has chastised mayor Hazel McCallion for remarks she made at a joint federal-provincial funding announcement last week.

The announcement, in which the two levels of government pledged more than $130M for roads and bridges, was attended by McCallion, who was critical of the funding (or lack thereof). McCallion says that the funding amounts to a “drop in a big bucket”, calling attention to Mississauga’s rather large (and increasing by the day) infrastructure deficit.

Critical remarks, especially in the presence of members of higher-order governments, is nothing new for McCallion. It has been her reputation since she took office decades ago, and it is why Premier McGuinty likes to call her “the most powerful politician in Canada” with a gleeful smirk. Yet Parrish was “embarrassed and ashamed” by the mayor’s remarks, saying she appeared “ungrateful, ungracious and downright rude”.

One unfamiliar with the ins and outs of Mississauga politics may be forgiven for thinking perhaps Councillor Parrish is right in criticizing the mayor. However, this is just one more chapter in the ongoing rivalry between McCallion and Parrish, who is often seen as a contender for mayor in the future. While most of council generally follows the same line of thinking as McCallion on a regular basis, Parrish is by her very nature a contrarion. Those with a long memory of Canadian federal politics will remember her character well from prominent outbursts: from stomping on a doll of then-US President George W. Bush; being caught by a boom microphone saying “Damn Americans, I hate those bastards”; and calling those in favour of North American missile defence as a “coalition of idiots”. As another Mississauga councillor put it, “people who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones”.

McCallion was right to criticize the upper levels of government, who for the last two decades have systematically downloaded services and responsibilities to municipalities without the funding to support them. One thing is for certain, McCallion will not be changing her demeanour and her general opinions at this stage in her tenure as mayor. Come October, when the city holds its election, you can expect more of the same from both McCallion, who will be almost uncontested for mayor, and Parrish, who will likely be re-elected.

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