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Elected Mayor of Mississauga in November 1978, Hazel McCallion is undoubtedly the city’s and possibly the province’s most beloved Mayor, having served dutifully for 36 years. This year, she is now stepping down as Mayor, having outlasted 9 prime ministers and 8 Ontario premiers during her reign. Throughout her political career, she had made numerous valuable social contributions to the community, cemented Mississauga’s strong economic standing, impacted thousands of lives, and left an unparalleled legacy in Canada’s history. The 93 year old “Hurricane Hazel” often says she feels like 39 for she has always led an active life. In a special interview with VietSun, the Mayor shares her thoughts about retirement, women’s role in politics, and healthy living.
VietSun(VS): You have been Mississauga’s most beloved mayor for more than three decades, what are some parts of the job you will miss the most?
Mayor Hazel McCallion (MHM): The thing I will miss most about being mayor is the people. Over the years, I have had the opportunity to meet people of every age, ethnic background and walk of life and have tried to learn something from everyone I meet.
VS: How do you want to spend your retirement? What are some things you want to do now that you have more free time?
MHM: I have a lot of things I want to do during my retirement like travelling abroad, spending more time with my family and friends, reading and organizing my large stamp collection. I also intend on remaining involved in my community and continuing to be a strong advocate for municipalities.
VS: Being one of the most influential figures for women in politics, what were some challenges you had to face, and what are some accumulated lessons you would like to share with women worldwide?
MHM: When I first started out in politics, the world was very different and being a woman was not as accepted as it is today. I had to deal with discrimination and judgements being made about me because of my gender. Women today have an easier time to some degree. However, I would strongly encourage women that before getting involved in politics that they learn as much as they can by volunteering, sitting on various citizen committees and educating themselves about the process. I feel that women bring a certain humanity and consciousness to politics and are wonderful advocates for issues which affect the whole community such as human rights, education, healthcare, etc.
VS: Do you have any advice for your successor who will have very big shoes to fill?
MHM: I would advise my successor to always put Mississauga first. I think every mayor should put their city and its residents first. A Mayor must always try to do what is best for the community and not to be motivated by personal or political desires. Public service is a noble pursuit and should not be entered into lightly. It is a privilege to serve as mayor and as the saying goes, “With great power comes great responsibility.”
VS: You once said, “Leaving a legacy is far more important than leaving an inheritance.” What do you hope to inspire through your many years in the public service sector?
MHM: I hope that I have inspired people to get involved in their community and to be active participants in their city. We all have a part to play in the success of our community and each person, young or old, has the opportunity and the responsibility to use their unique talents and gifts to do some good in the world.
VS: What are your secrets to a happy and healthy life, one that you are living so fully?
MHM: I don’t have any secrets per se, I just try to live a healthy lifestyle by making good food choices, avoiding sugar and processed food, getting enough sleep and exercising a little every day. I also enjoy gardening which is a great way to keep fit and get fresh air. In terms of leading a happy life, my strong faith helps to fulfill me and gives me a strong sense of purpose. Also, spending time with my family and friends is a great source of joy and comfort.
VS: Thank you Mayor, and we wish you the best in all your future endeavours.
MHM: Thank you for the opportunity to share my thoughts with the Vietnamese community!