TTC honcho Gary Webster will probably be fired today, in yet another special meeting
Some time after 2 p.m. today, TTC chief general manager Gary Webster, who’s been in the transit business for about three decades, will probably be sacked in a special meeting of the city’s transit commissioners. The mayor’s office has been gunning for Webster since at least last summer, when news broke that the seasoned transit chief wasn’t sufficiently receptive to Rob Ford’s plans for the Sheppard subway. Now it looks like Webster’s recent defence of “numbers” and “facts” at Karen Stintz’s special council showdown meeting two weeks back was the final straw.
Tuesday’s snap meeting to debate Mr. Webster’s fate comes two weeks after he outlined the virtues of light rail lines over subways, which Mayor Rob Ford champions, during a special council debate.
At the meeting, councillors rejected subways, choosing to follow Ms. Stintz’s plan to build above-ground light rail on Finch Avenue West and at the east end of the Eglinton Crosstown line and to consider options for Sheppard Avenue.
Even before that debate, however, members of the mayor’s team had openly questioned transit leadership, with his brother Councillor Doug Ford saying “the TTC needs a complete enema.”
Of course, providing honest answers to councillors’ questions is pretty much what the city hires people like Webster to do—as long as they go on to follow the instructions of their political masters. At this point, it’s anyone’s guess as to what Ford’s overarching strategy might be. Over at the Toronto Star, Christopher Hume argues that the contrast between Ford’s “petulance” and Webster, “whose integrity and intelligence are above reproach,” couldn’t be starker. We already know that numbers on population growth simply don’t support the case for Ford’s Sheppard subway (we know this from that report that Ford received and subsequently repressed). Perhaps a less rebellious TTC would be willing to overlook such concerns (indeed, Royson James enumerates in the Star just what responsibilities would be demanded of a good TTC lackey). Or perhaps Ford just doesn’t tolerate dissent.