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3 Canadian Mayors Who Stand Out from the Crowd

An outspoken provocateur, an NHL dreamer, and a 91 year-old in her 12th term. Meet 3 big-dreaming Canadian mayors who are doing things their own way.

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1. Rob Ford – Toronto, Ontario

Rob Ford stormed into office in 2010 on a message that he would stop the “gravy train” by eliminating waste at Toronto’s city hall. Though critics questioned his math, the message was a winner. However, since his victory, Ford has alienated key allies and suffered several setbacks. City council spiked his proposal to extend a subway line, substituting their own above-ground light-rail plan. They also pushed back on the 2012 budget, rejecting $15 million worth of cuts.

A string of embarrassing incidents-such as when Ford called 9-1-1 after comedian Mary Walsh ambushed him in his driveway for an interview-have also added to his woes. As a councillor, Ford’s lone-wolf style endeared him to constituents, but as mayor, it’s isolating him. With the 2014 election looming, it looks clear that Ford needs to make friends to influence people.

(Photo courtesy of Shaun Merritt/Flickr)

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2. Hazel McCallion – Mississauga, Ontario

The only mayor many Mississaugans have ever known,”Hurricane Hazel” is legendary for her no-nonsense manner and relentless drive. Now age 91, and in her 12th term, she has presided over decades of explosive growth that transformed Mississauga from a sleepy bedroom community into an economic dynamo.

Her reputation was tarnished last year when an inquiry criticized her for promoting a real-estate deal that would have benefited her son. Voters appear to have shrugged off the news. McCallion attributes her success to a few core principles. “Be honest and straightforward,” she says. “Communicate and make yourself available.” So she listens-but seldom wavers: “I value disagreement because it forces you to confirm you’re doing the right thing.”

(Photo courtesy of Fleur-Ange Lamothe/Flickr)

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3. Régis Labeaume – Quebec City, Quebec

When Quebec City mayor Andrée Boucher died in office in 2007, Régis Labeaume was CEO of the province’s Entrepreneurship Foundation. He had no formal experience in municipal politics, but was a quick study, winning the race in a landslide. He cemented his hold in 2009 when “Team Labeaume” took 25 of Quebec City’s 27 districts with 80 percent of the vote.

Labeaume has made rebranding the city as a 21st-century technology hub his priority. The 55-year-old’s entrepreneurial streak is most visible in his splashy-and pricey-pet projects, including a proposed $400-million arena to lure an NHL team back to the city, which lost its beloved Nordiques in 1995. Though the NHL has said it’s not looking to move any teams, Labeaume isn’t discouraged – he recently told reporters he would welcome a team “tomorrow morning.” If he succeeds, expect more landslides.

(Photo courtesy of Robert J. Galbraith/Flickr)