With Gary Webster’s sacking, Ford’s allies somehow made a hero out of a civil servant
As expected, five transit commissioners voted yesterday to oust TTC chief general manager Gary Webster, whose penchant for “reasonable arguments” had become an unwelcome distraction from Rob Ford’s delightful transit fantasies subway expansion schemes. Every daily paper and television station in the city has covered the story from all angles, but the condensed version is as follows: Webster, a long-serving civil servant, was a known opponent of Ford’s proposed Sheppard subway extension—something that did not endear him to the mayor. After Webster spoke in favour of light rail transit at the special council meeting earlier this month—the one where Ford’s opponents won and the mayor was publicly embarrassed—Ford’s allies on the TTC board called a special meeting to fire him.
In the short term, Ford and Co. were successful—Webster’s gone, and they can (presumably) find someone a little more friendly to take his place. But by getting rid of Webster in what was clearly a political move, Ford has further alienated his allies on council. As the Globe and Mail’s Marcus Gee points out, Ford has actually managed to turn “a grey transit official” into a kind of civic folk hero—no mean feat when the TTC isn’t exactly the most popular civic institution in town. Worse, instead of demonstrating the mayor’s power, Webster’s termination might actually galvanize the councillors who oppose them—there are already rumblings that council might move to kick the Ford allies of the TTC board. Things can only get more interesting from here.