Premier Doug Ford sat with his dear friend and mentor Hazel McCallion on Saturday, rubbing her hand and helping her family ensure she was as comfortable as possible in her final moments.
“I kissed her and told her I love her,” Ford told CP24 on Sunday afternoon. McCallion died at around 6:30 a.m. She was 101.
At the request of McCallion’s family, the premier announced her peaceful passing on Sunday morning.
Ford said he offered her family a state funeral and is in the midst of consultations with Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie to finalize next steps. “It's going to be an incredible celebration,” Ford said.
In tribute to McCallion, he recounted the values that characterized her 36 years as mayor of Mississauga, marking her as the longest serving mayor in the city’s history.
“There's no politician in the country that really understood the grassroots of the people more than Hazel did,” Ford said.
“It was all about the people and listening to the people,” Ford said, calling her commitment to her community “second to none.”
He said McCallion was the same behind the scenes as she was in front of a camera or audience.
“Everyone knew she was a force to be reckoned with,” Ford said. “She would just say what's on her mind and 99 per cent of the time and she was right, not even, say, 100 per cent of the time she was right.”
“There isn’t a single person who met Hazel who didn’t leave in awe of her force of personality. I count myself incredibly lucky to have called Hazel my friend over these past many years.”
Mississauga and Ontario are better places because of the amazing life of Hazel McCallion. Rest easy, my friend. pic.twitter.com/LJO4HALdRp
— Doug Ford (@fordnation) January 29, 2023
The following is the full statement released by Premier Doug Ford shortly before 8 a.m. Sunday morning following the death of longtime Mississauga mayor Hazel McCallion.
At the request of the family, I announce with a heavy heart, the passing of my dear friend and mentor, Hazel McCallion.
Hazel passed away peacefully at her home in Mississauga early this morning at the incredible age of 101.
Hazel was the true definition of a public servant. She dedicated her long life to her community, including 36 years as mayor of Mississauga – the longest serving mayor in the city’s history. She led the transformation of Mississauga into one of Canada’s largest cities. Hazel’s mark on her community can be found in the many places and organizations that bear her name, including the Hazel McCallion Line.
There isn’t a single person who met Hazel who didn’t leave in awe of her force of personality. I count myself incredibly lucky to have called Hazel my friend over these past many years. As I entered the world of politics, I was fortunate enough to learn from her wisdom and guidance, which she selflessly offered until the very end.
Hazel will be missed dearly by the people that she so faithfully served. I know we will all miss the wit and tenacity of the one and only Hurricane Hazel.
On behalf of all Ontarians, I want to extend my condolences to Hazel’s family, especially her children Peter, Linda and Paul. Thank you for sharing your mother with us for so many years.
Her city, and our province, are better places because of the amazing life of Hazel McCallion. Rest easy, my friend."