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Mississauga mayoral candidate Crombie hopes to appeal to McCallion supporters

Bonnie Crombie filed her papers to run for mayor of Mississauga March 25, 2014.

Kevin Van Paassen/The Globe and Mail

Mississauga mayoral candidate Bonnie Crombie has not revealed her platform yet, but she's hoping to appeal to supporters of long-time Mayor Hazel McCallion by styling herself as a Hazel 2.0.

Ms. Crombie registered to run for mayor Tuesday morning, a play the city's political watchers have anticipated since Ms. Crombie was first elected to council in 2011. Many predict the election will be a two-way race between Ms. Crombie and Steve Mahoney, a former councillor, Liberal MPP and MP.

Ms. Crombie referred to Ms. McCallion, the retiring mayor, several times at her campaign launch across the street from City Hall at the Living Arts Centre. Ms. Crombie said if she is elected, she plans to build on the groundwork of her predecessor.

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"I see things from a business perspective. I think that's the way Hazel started as well. She's about the age I was when she got into this business," she said.

Ms. McCallion, 93, was easily elected and re-elected with strong mandates over three decades with virtually no campaigning during her last several terms. Her approval ratings stayed strong even when she faced three individual conflict of interest allegations. She was found guilty in one case, but kept her job because the judge ruled she'd made an error in judgment. She rallied behind Ms. Crombie in 2011 during the Ward 5 by-election and helped her friend narrowly beat out former councillor and MP Carolyn Parrish.

Though she has tried to paint herself in the image of Ms. McCallion, Ms. Crombie has much to prove: her political experience is limited to one term as a backbench Liberal MP and 21/2 years as a city councillor.

Ms. Crombie and Mr. Mahoney both say building a light-rail line on Hurontario Street is a priority: the $1.5-billion capital project has been in limbo for years without funding. Both also say they're committed to attracting new businesses to the city and getting rid of barriers, such as zoning and permit restrictions. And both say they want to hold the line on taxes and instead look to other revenue tools.

"I will pledge that we will not raise taxes irresponsibly without seeking all other avenues first," Ms. Crombie said.

She stressed it was time for the city to be seen as more than a "sleepy suburb" – not just by residents of the GTA, but by senior levels of government.

The ability to secure funding from the province and Ottawa will rely on connections, both candidates said, while taking swipes at each other.

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Mr. Mahoney has not served in public office since 2004 but noted when he served in senior government, he was in "substantial roles, not just sitting in a backbench or whatever." He briefly served in Jean Chrétien's cabinet.

Ms. Crombie said she had strong relationships of her own in other levels of government. "They're current connections, they're relevant connections," she said.

Both candidates said that they don't want this race to veer into personal attacks, in contrast to what has been playing out in neighbouring Brampton and Toronto.

"If we're lucky, this will be an issues-based campaign and not a personal one," Mr. Mahoney said.

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About the Author

Dakshana Bascaramurty is a national news reporter who writes about race and ethnicity. She won a 2013 National Newspaper Award in beat reporting for her coverage of changing demographics in the 905 region. Previously, she was a feature writer for Globe Life. More

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