Friday, September 18, 2009


Lets get one thing straight: I love Mississauga Mayor Hazel McCallion. It was my privilege to first meet “Hurricane Hazel” when I worked for the Mississauga News, and several times since. She’s widely respected by politicians across North America. That’s why it’s so noteworthy to see her make a rare misstep in a story about her involvement in a land deal her son’s company was (and is) trying to close to build a hotel near Mississauga City Hall. The Mayor attended at least two meetings to advocate for her son Peter’s company in its bid to purchase land from OMERS and build a hotel on it, even though the necessary re-zoning was an issue before her City Council. She did initially declare a conflict on the issue, but said she thought it only applied to Council votes. “It doesn’t prevent me from hoping something will happen,” McCallion told the Toronto Star. Asked if she thought it was appropriate for her to have attended one meeting that included officials from the land seller, OMERS, she said: “I was there and I don’t quite know what else to say… I am answering it to the best of my ability. You can come to your own conclusion.” Communicators need to evaluate in advance of such interviews what the public perception might be of their planned answers. This one looked like McCallion might have respected the letter of the conflict law, but certainly not the spirit of it. Better to admit you’ve made a mistake and apologize. For someone with McCallion’s enormous political capital, that forgiveness would arrive swiftly.

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