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Mississauga Mayor Hazel McCallion cheered at gala

Hazel McCallion — who is Mississauga's longest-serving mayor after holding the post for 36 years — was toasted at a retirement gala, even though she insists she isn’t retiring.

Mississauga's mayor leaves office after 36 years

Mississauga Mayor Hazel McCallion answers questions about her long career in politics. 16:44

Hazel McCallion — who is Mississauga's longest-serving mayor after holding the post for 36 years — was toasted at a retirement gala, even though she insists she isn’t retiring.

"I'm leaving my job as mayor of Mississauga — that’s all," the 93-year-old career politician told CBC News recently. "I'm not retiring."

McCallion has held the top job in the southern Ontario city since 1978. 

I’m going to keep busy.— Hazel McCallion, mayor of Mississauga

Voters have since returned her to office 12 times. During two of those elections she ran unopposed and, even when challenged, McCallion often didn't bother to spend time or money campaigning. 

But after 36 years, Hurricane Hazel — as she's affectionately known — has opted not to run again. 

Mississauga Mayor Hazel McCallion has lent her support to candidate Bonnie Crombie in a tight election race. (Canadian Press)
Her would-be successors include Coun. Bonnie Crombie and former city councillor Steve Mahoney, who appear to be in a dead heat going into the Oct. 27 election. 

McCallion has not endorsed any of the candidates, and isn't certain if she will. She has also not taken sides in the highly contentious mayoral race in neighbouring Toronto. 

Her advice to Mississauga’s next mayor? Don’t make promises you can’t keep. 

"I said I would plan for people, that I would give them value for their tax dollar. I never said I'd reduce taxes," she said. "You've got to be honest with people. You can’t make promises you haven't got a hope of fulfilling."

Canadian country music legend Tommy Hunter attended the gala. (Jasmin Seputis/CBC)

McCallion said she hopes her legacy will be "building a city for people. So people can enjoy the quality of life."

On Saturday night, McCallion was honoured with a gala at the city's International Centre.

Premier Kathleen Wynne said McCallion has set an example for female politicians everywhere.

"I'm not sure that there are many people like you. I think you're an original," Wynne said.

Former prime minister Jean Chretien praised McCallion's commitment to public life.

Former prime minister Jean Chretien was among those who paid tribute to Hazel McCallion, the long-serving mayor of Mississauga, at a gala on Saturday night. (CBC)

"You're the proof of how noble is the public service, you dedicated your life to that," he said.

McCallion plans to keep working for the city in some way, even after a new mayor is elected.

Her memoirs will be published next month. Beyond that, McCallion says she hasn’t decided what she will do. 

"I'm going to keep busy."

Corrections

  • An earlier version of this story said Hazel McCallion is Canada's longest-serving mayor. In fact, she is Mississauga's longest-serving mayor.
    Sep 29, 2014 6:44 AM ET

With files from the CBC's Jasmin Seputis

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