Larry Taylor, Mayor Hazel McCallion’s “problem child”-councillor dies: a dedication

June 23rd, 2011  

Mississauga News, “Councillor fought for ideals”

Larry Taylor. Former Ward 4 Councillor Larry Taylor died this morning after a lengthy battle with cancer. Mississauga News File photo

By: John Stewart

Former Ward 4 Councillor Larry Taylor, a political idealist who fought for the environment, social housing and inclusive municipal planning policies in an era when those ideas were considered radical, died this morning.

Taylor, 62, was a long-time member of the NDP party who pulled off a stunning upset of incumbent Councillor Caye Killaby in 1976. He died of lung cancer in a hospice in Barrie, where he had lived for many years. Taylor had fought three different types of cancer since 1998.

In a telephone interview from his hospital room last month, Taylor said he had few regrets about a life that revolved predominantly around politics. He was involved in at least 38 different campaigns as candidate, campaign manager or organizer and ran provincially and federally for the NDP several times, most recently in Barrie in 2007…

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I met Larry Taylor —only once, and let’s just say that we compared notes…

Mr. Taylor is a Mississauga finestkind.

I prepared this video reading from two passages about Larry Taylor from Tom Urbaniak’s book, Her Worship: Hazel McCallion and the Development of Mississauga.

As is our custom, here’s the video complete with transcript.

Larry Taylor, Mayor Hazel McCallion’s “problem child”-councillor dies: a dedication. (7:11 min)

(Click here to go directly to the clip on YouTube)

[VIDEO TRANSCRIPT]

MISSISSAUGAWATCH (reporting inside Mississauga Council Chambers, June 22, 2011)

It is June 22nd 2011 and Council has just adjourned and I want to pay my respects to former councillor Larry Taylor. I only had the privilege of meeting him once but I can tell you —he’s finestkind.

And I want to read from Tom Urbaniak’s book, “Her Worship: Hazel McCallion and the Development of Mississauga”.

He talks about Larry Taylor on page 115 and I want to read it now.

Hazel McCallion emerged from that 1982 election with an extremely strong hand. The old establishment had opposed her. Her old enemies had resurfaced to oppose her. One candidate for the Ward 2 council seat expressed alarm at the “Drapeau-like council,” a reference to the domineering Montreal mayor, but that candidate’s vote had been marginal. The only regularly publishing local newspaper had opposed her. A judge had admonished her. And still she cruised to victory. If everyone were against her, it was, to paraphrase John Diefenbaker, everyone except the people.

On city council there was now but one problem child: Larry Taylor. While the conflict-of-interest proceedings had been going on, he had been allowed to snipe from the sidelines. He had even been calling up citizens in all parts of the city to try to set up a Mississauga-wide feder­ation of ratepayers’ organizations. Now, with McCallion presuming herself to be vindicated, he could be taught a lesson. Returning in Feb­ruary 1983 from a stint out of the country, he headed for what he thought would be a regular city council meeting. To his astonishment, the mayor and the other councillors had prepared a most unexpected greeting.

Taylor had helped to start a non-profit newspaper in his ward, a laudable objective in a media-barren environment. He and the volunteers arranged to print it on a city press in exchange for free advertising­ for the municipality.

This now was portrayed as a major scandal. It was ‘theft’ of city resources. Other groups wanting city support had to apply to council for funding. Senior city staff did not use the word ‘theft,’ but they gravely confirmed that Taylor had been following a rather irregular procedure. The newspaper stopped printing. The city-wide ratepayers’ association concept was also fatally attacked. By trying to set one up, Taylor had supposedly been interfering inappropriately in the business of other wards. The embattled councillor would henceforth be contained.

The Mississauga News for its part was not much of a threat to the mayor now. If sometimes it would report some controversial com­ments, these were always offset by the numerous feel-good photo­graphs of the mayor at one function or another. When McCallion released only a partial list of her campaign donors from the 1982 campaign despite promising full disclosure, it merited only a blip. When an inquest into a fatal fire revealed the city to be short of bylaw staff none of the discussion redounded onto the mayor’s penny-pinching. When social service agencies complained that not enough was being done to build healthy and cohesive neighbourhoods, they were but voices in the wilderness.

And it goes on and on.

So Larry Taylor had been a “problem child” councillor to Hazel McCallion.

And then there’s one more that I want to read now. And it’s on page 134-135. Right there.

In 1984, when the mayor’s own property was rezoned to allow for single-family homes (the same property that had been at the centre the conflict-of-interest case), no one appeared at the statutory (public) meeting in order to complain. That property was still surrounded by open fields. (This time, McCallion declared her conflict of interest.)

I mean we’re talking about something that happened in the 80’s here.

As a sign that visible opposition seemed to be draining away, McCallion finally even calculated that she could move on Larry Taylor. Waiting until just a few days before the 1988 election, she sent a letter at city expense and on mayoral letterhead to Taylor’s constituents, accusing the councillor of telling ‘a lie’—

And if you see ‘a lie’ is there in quotes. So clearly it was McCallion using that term.

—’a lie’ when he blamed council for being politically motivated in rejecting his request for a stop sign. The furious and now imperiled councillor charged that this last-minute missive was ‘calculated’ to prevent him from responding, that it was an inappropriate use of public money, and that McCallion had prevailed upon Mississauga News publisher Ron Lenyk to endorse challenger Frank Dale. (Lenyk denied being pressured by the mayor.)

Now, there’s one thing that is very clear and that is the degree to which Ron Lenyk, former publisher of the Mississauga News, is an extremely close friend and supporter of McCallion.

It would be for example, if I were Mayor or any kind of politician and I would want someone to be a publisher of the only newspaper in my city, I’d pick someone like Lenyk.

And the story of Ron Lenyk can be seen in the photographs of the Mayor’s galas going all the way back to 1987, the first Mayor’s gala all the way downward.

And when you see Ron Lenyk in there or if you see video of the “Starr’s on the Credit” 2008 video highlights, Ron Lenyk’s performances on documentaries—

Ron Lenyk, speaking on Mayor’s promotional documentary (shown at Hazel McCallion’s $350.00 a ticket birthday bash, February 12, 2011)

Hazel, she’d always was [sic] around the action. She was the action. She was the centre of the action. So Media found her, as you said, a media darling.

MISSISSAUGAWATCH (reporting inside Mississauga Council Chambers, June 22, 2011)

How could you not be mayor for three decades when you’ve got Ron Lenyk in your pocket as the only local newspaper —and on the other side, you’ve got Jake Dheer (laughs) as the only “television station”.

Jake Dheer, speaking on Mayor’s promotional documentary (shown at Hazel McCallion’s $350.00 a ticket birthday bash, February 12, 2011)

“The Mayor’s Hour” is the longest running show on Rogers TV and I think, probably the longest-running that any mayor has ever had.

MISSISSAUGAWATCH (reporting inside Mississauga Council Chambers, June 22, 2011)

It is so pathetic! So pathetic, this place.

Mississauga is just a huge company town!

[Mark Knopfler, “Don’t Crash the Ambulance”]

LARRY TAYLOR, FORMER MISSISSAUGA COUNCILLOR, finestkind.

Toronto Sun columnist Ted Woloshyn at 2003 Mayor's Gala. For "context" when reading Ted Woloshyn's columns on Hazel McCallion, this lapdog pic will put things in perspective!

UPDATE  June 24, 2011  12:06 am.

The Mississauga News created a wonderful editorial “Taylor was an original” honouring former Mississauga Councillor Larry Taylor. It begins:

Former Ward 6 Councillor Carolyn Parrish is a colourful and controversial character who could cause a mighty ruckus at City Hall — but she couldn’t hold a candle to Larry Taylor.
Taylor was an original.

Back in the day (1976-88), the former Ward 4 Councillor sparked (and revelled in) one furious debate after another in Council Chambers — much to Mayor Hazel McCallion’s chagrin. At the time, his revolutionary and often unwelcome ideas about preserving the environment, municipal planning and social policies were considered radical.

Taylor’s flair for dramatic oratory and his frequent criticism of City policies at council meetings and in the press often landed him in trouble with his colleagues.

Notice reference to Taylor’s, “frequent criticism of City policies”… And that was back in the 80’s!

HAZEL MCCALLION QUOTE ON STAFF NON-COMPLIANCE TO POLICIES (AUDIT COMMITTEE 090511) "There seems to be a complete disregard for policy."

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