04/12/2013 09:04 EDT | Updated 06/12/2013 05:12 EDT

Hazel McCallion defends herself during cross at conflict-of-interest trial

MISSISSAUGA, Ont. - Mississauga Mayor Hazel McCallion defended herself Friday during cross-examination at a conflict-of-interest hearing that could see her removed from office.

McCallion is accused of interfering in a land deal involving her son, but denies the accusation saying “you can’t always be aware of what your family members are doing.”

Peter McCallion was involved in World Class Developments’ plan to build a $1.5-billion hotel and convention centre near Mississauga city hall.

The deal eventually fell through, but not before the mayor voted on legislation that could have saved WCD $11 million.

The vote occurred in September 2007 by the Region of Peel Council, which includes Mississauga as well as Brampton and Caledon.

The mayor told the court that in 2009, she asked for clarification to the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act.

“Was this letter triggered because you didn’t know what Peter was doing? Did you write it ahead of the inquiry,” asked lawyer Thomas Richardson, who represents McCallion’s accuser, political activist and Mississauga resident Elias Hazeneh.

“No, it’s come up before that we don’t know what our sons and daughters are doing,” McCallion said.

As the trial continued, Richardson asked McCallion if she would have done anything differently.

“If you had known on Sept. 13, 2007, that the transition motion would save WCD $11 million… would you have declared a conflict of interest,” Richardson asked.

“No, I feel very strongly development levies are like a tax,” she responded.

In court Thursday, McCallion testified she was misled by her own son and had no idea Peter was an owner of WCD. He owned shares in the development company and was named as a guarantor on documents McCallion admitted she saw.

The mayor said he told her he was a real estate agent. And she said she missed seeing his name on the documents because of low lighting.

Under cross-examination on Friday, Richardson asked McCallion if she was aware her son would be compensated.

“I assumed naturally if you’re a real estate agent there would be some compensation but to what that compensation I had no idea,” she responded.

“Would you agree that Peter was deeply involved,” he asked.

“I don’t assume a real estate agent would work for free of charge,” she said.

The changes to the legislation, which allowed builders to pay development fees at lower rates in 2007, would save developers money, but there would be less cash for capital projects.

Cross-examination of McCallion wrapped up on Friday. The trial will continue Monday.

Lawyers for McCallion are calling for the case to be dismissed. McCallion is also planning to argue that even if she did breach the act, it was an error in judgment or inadvertent.