Home > News Room > TEA in the News > Firing TTC chief GM Gary Webster would be a 'vendetta,' councillor says - National Post

Firing TTC chief GM Gary Webster would be a 'vendetta,' councillor says - National Post

February 21, 2012
Megan O'Toole
National Post

TTC commissioners voted Tuesday to dismiss of chief general manager Gary Webster.

The vote was 5-4 in favour of the dismissal.

Shortly before the meeting began, Mr. Webster entered the room to cheers from a small group of citizens gathered inside. “Bravo, Gary! Hooray for Gary!” they cheered.

Asked by a throng of reporters how he was doing, Mr. Webster responded tersely: “I’m fine, thanks.”

TTC chairwoman Karen Stintz has said she sees no reason to oust Mr. Webster, noting he has served the city well. But five TTC commissioners who comprise a majority  — Norm Kelly, Cesar Palacio, Frank Di Giorgio, Denzil Minnan-Wong and Vincent Crisanti — are expected to call for his removal.

The meeting comes amid conflicting transit visions in the city: Mayor Rob Ford favours subways, while Mr. Webster and Ms. Stintz successfully pushed for a light-rail plan.

A number of anti-Ford councillors — who were also excluded from the meeting — have gathered with residents in a nearby committee room to discuss how to bring “some sanity back to Toronto,” in the words of Councillor Gord Perks.

The Toronto Environmental Alliance encouraged participants to voice their displeasure by filling out a form that begins: “Dear Toronto City Councillors, If the 5 Toronto Transit Commissioners fire Gary Webster today, here is what I hope you will do.”

Councillor Pam McConnell said Mr. Webster’s ouster would set a “very dangerous” precedent, encouraging staff to placate the mayor rather than give their best advice.

“This is a power play by the mayor [and] there is going to be a big backlash,” Councillor Joe Mihevc added. “If this kind of vendetta works on one of the most respected civil servants in the city of Toronto — the anger out there is palpable.”

Transit union boss Bob Kinnear, who was at City Hall awaiting results of the closed-door meeting, said it would be irresponsible for the commissioners to fire Mr. Webster at such a pivotal moment in the city’s transit development.

“Make no mistake about it, this is political,” Mr. Kinnear said, blasting some of the TTC commissioners as grossly inexperienced. “This is just another example of how the political interference at City Hall has stagnated the TTC from expansion.”

As originally published here: http://news.nationalpost.com/2012/02/21/meeting-expected-to-result-in-dismissal-of-ttc-chief-gm-gary-webster-convenes-amid-cheers-and-conflicting-visions-of-transit/

2012-02-21 Firing TTC chief GM Gary Webster would be a 'vendetta,' councillor says (National Post).pdf798.15 KB