TTC Board May Try To Fire Chief General Manager

The Toronto Star reports that a special meeting of the TTC Board has been called for February 21 to consider the firing of Chief General Manager Gary Webster.

In a clear retaliation against the block of Council who endorsed an LRT plan for Toronto, the block of Commissioners dominated by Mayor Ford have called for this special meeting using a procedure similar to the one used by Karen Stintz and her allies to call a special Council meeting on the LRT plans.

If correct, this will be a clear retaliation against TTC’s Chief General Manager Gary Webster who has spoken against proposals for expansion of the subway network, and by extension against Stintz who has defended Webster from previous attacks by the Ford administration.

From the viewpoint of political strategy, now is the time for Council to hold yet another special meeting to seize control of the Transit Commission.  This could be done either by prematurely ending the terms of sitting members, or by increasing the size of the Commission and diluting Ford’s influence with enough extra members to ensure a majority that represented the broader view of Council rather than of the Mayor.

Will Council make such a move, or will they sit on their hands?  This is the first challenge, but certainly not the last, in taming Mayor Ford’s control of the City’s agencies.

65 thoughts on “TTC Board May Try To Fire Chief General Manager

  1. I find it quite rich that the very people who were, just weeks ago, lecturing us all so sanctimoniously about how we can’t afford gold-plated services because the city is “broke” and how we must “learn to live within our means,” are now willing to fire a guy who followed just that direction in his opinions and recommendations. Apparently, they’ve changed their minds and they now want gold-plated subway service, regardless of affordability or justification. And the “living within our means” thing? That’s yesterday’s line. Today, we’re gambling with billions of public dollars to “build it and they will come, even if it takes 50-100 years.” I continue to be surprised and dismayed at how many people are actually able to convince themselves to support this obvious hypocrisy and fundamentally irrational behaviour.


  2. It’s unfortunate and ironic that the Mayor and TTC Commissioners aren’t subject to a code of ethics like the TTC General Manager is.

    I hope he sues for every penny. If his fault is for following the direction of Council instead of the direction of the Mayor (I’m unaware of the TTC itself actually having made any decisions on this whole thing since 2010 – and he certainly seems to be following the direction of the Chair) then surely he is doing exactly what he is legally required to do.

    The Sun is suggesting that 4 or 5 may be fired. Good grief, how much $$$ is he going to cost us …


  3. I can’t believe what Frank Di Giorgio said

    “the issue is a matter of whether a bureaucrat had the responsibility to undertake a task as mandated by the people and reflected in the mayor’s mandate”

    #1- Webster disagrees with Ford = Webster loses job
    #2- If our mayor(s) had released the report on the feasibility of the new subway, would the sheep of Toronto have voted for him?

    Steve: The Mayor does not have a “mandate” to ignore Council.


  4. The City does have a code of conduct for Councillors. Section X11 clearly says:

    Under the direction of the City Manager, staff serve the Council as a whole, and the combined interests of all members as evidenced through the decisions of Council. Members shall be respectful of the role of staff to provide advice based on political neutrality and objectivity and without undue influence from any individual member or faction of the Council. Accordingly, no member shall maliciously or falsely injure the professional or ethical reputation, or the prospects or practice of staff, and all members shall show respect for the professional capacities of staff.

    Michael Greason, above, is absolutely right – staff have a professional duty to give their ‘honest opinions’ on proposed policies but if Council decides to do something stupid they are obliged to implement it. In the case of the LRT/subway debate Council had either already approved LRTs or was discussing doing so (depending on your point of view) and Gary Webster was obligated to tell the truth as he saw it. He did — and should be praised for it.


  5. In reply to David O’Rourke;

    One compromise could have been to commit to a side of road alignment for the stretch West of Don Mills. Another could have been some options to cross the DVP (i.e. elevated) to avoid the traffic issues related to losing lanes at this interchange.

    At least give preliminary cost estimates for some options so Council could decide. All that was before Council was Transit City (which I believe is at-grade in-median from Brentcliffe to Kennedy, save for Don Mills) and full subway.


  6. If everyone on Council already figured out what is about to happen, surely they could have found a way to prevent this. Has it become more politically advantageous to let Mayor Ford and his shrinking circle shoot themselves in the foot, if not the head, over this? Are the two sides just going to heave larger and more expensive retaliatory boulders at each other, eye-for-an-eye, until there’s nothing left standing to protect?


  7. Nfitz said: It’s unfortunate and ironic that the Mayor and TTC Commissioners aren’t subject to a code of ethics like the TTC General Manager is.

    Actually, if you go to the City’s website and search for “Council code of conduct” you will get the 10-page code of conduct for members of Council. It could be worth asking Ms. Leiper if section XII of this code of conduct has been violated.


  8. Hey everyone, I’ve created a Facebook group to try and pressure councilors to hold a meeting to remove Ford’s allies from the TTC.

    As an engineer, and a transportation planner, I find this treatment of my fellow professionals personally offensive. I totally agree with Steve that this action robs those councilors of their legitimacy of governing the TTC.


  9. “The needs of the many (transit users), are greater than the needs of the few (Ford followers). Or of the one (Rob Ford).”


  10. not sure if anyone has caught this one yet.

    Scorched earth policy, here we come. I’m surprised they aren’t asking for first-born sons to be sacrificed as well. Heck, they should give Kim Jong Un a call and find out about how they imprison entire families – might be some best practices for Rob Ford and co to keep in mind.

    Steve: Di Giorgio seems to have no idea that city staff work for all of Council, not for the Mayor or his buddies. If David Miller had said something like this, he would have been torn apart in the press, and with good reason. Ford’s supporters are getting really desperate, but Council needs to rein them in.


  11. We’ve heard that the the TTC can’t dismiss the chair by majority vote.

    The TTC by-laws posted on the TTC website say otherwise:

    Is this just out-of-date?

    Steve: Yes, last April Council changed the way the TTC Chair is appointed. This overrides the TTC’s bylaw.


  12. As a long-time Trekkie, I’m afraid that the illogical attitude of the Ford supporters to the maxim noted by W. K. Lis would be:

    The needs of the many (‘all the people the Mayor speaks to’ say they want subways) are greater than the needs of the few (the majority of Council and their so-called ‘tree-hugging pinko’ supporters), or of the one (Mr. Webster, who in the opinion of Ford’s followers had no business opposing the Mayor’s ‘mandate’ to do whatever he jolly well pleases.)

    Steve: But resistance is not futile.


  13. Steve, This weekend I watched an old movie on the weekend where the townspeople were all shot to death because one person with the aid of his friends was making it impossible for a German officer and his company during WWII to transport a train with French art treasures from France to Germany(‘ The Train”). The German officer did this for all to see and make sure there was no more disruptions.

    I have found some similarities here after hearing some things from Frank Di Giorgio. This idea that four or five may be on the carpet means that the optics of this situation are not just for the TTC, but for every single city department … you do this and not only are you going down but three or four subordinates will lose position/jobs because of your stance, forget if it’s right or wrong! The Ford boys (men think things out, boys have temper tantrums) have discovered with their Tory buddies that you don’t need Toronto proper (inner city) to win an election … and to that end target Etobicoke, North York and Scarboro, just like the last election and you can win. This is the sad politics, pure and simple.

    As this has unfolded, we here have been searching University and College programs for my daughter for next year. She will not be in residence, so we had to do some searching through bus timetables to understand what we are dealing with. We live approximately a ten minute walk away from the Richmond Hill transit terminal at Highway #7 and Yonge. From this site, GO Transit and VIVA provide almost a constant service to York and Seneca @York with connections from there to Guelph and McMaster (via Square One). Going east is very similar … VIVA provides great service to Seneca/Markham, and GO goes into UofT (Scarboro College), Centennial College, Durham College, and last but not least UOIT. And going south … no problem to Ryerson, UofT, and George Brown … once you’re at Finch, it’s the subway.

    There are two I have not mentioned and they are University of Guelph-Humber and Humber College (both at the Humber College site). From here, she could take YRT across Highway#7 to Martin Grove and take that bus south to UG-H … long time and spotty service on Martin Grove. Next one is VIVA to York with two or three more transfers involved via TTC. Third option is down to York Mills where you pick up the GO bus that goes into the campus … problem — three different fares twice everyday! My daughter was talking to a student at Guelph-Humber who was also from York region and after the first year went into residence because of the transportation expense and difficulty.

    Why am I bringing this up? Well, when council defeated Ford et al over the Sheppard subway, the President of Humber College made a statement to the effect how happy they were that the college was finally going to be getting descent transit service. Doug was upset and said he should contact the Ford office first before making such a statement (paraphrasing).

    When the TTC does its planning, it is not just for the city. It also affects how the other cities plan their systems in conjunction with Toronto. The Finch West was perfect for Humber along with many others. But what do we get? Mammoliti and the Emery BIA group demanding and possibly suing for a Finch West subway. GEEZ, the Emery BIA is mostly industrial … but you can already hear the mantra … they don’t care about us (North York, Scarboro, and Etobicoke)!

    This is not and has never been about saving money, it is strictly a vote grabber … If it isn’t, go out to Mississauga and ride their buses and explain. Toronto was about the size of Hazel’s domain when it opened the Yonge subway in 1954. Don’t forget, you can’t tell them how much it will cost for their elaborate subway.


  14. Paraphrasing: We are the Fords. We will add your biological and technological distinctiveness to our own. Resistance is futile. One mind. One thought. One perfection. We are many yet we are one.


  15. If the Commission votes to remove Gary Webster tomorrow, wouldn’t his best move be to refuse to sign a severance package and sue the city for wrongful dismissal? By airing their childish rationale in public (and letting newspapers document it!) and acting in direct contravention of the City’s code of conduct, it seems to me Rob Ford’s wise guys are handing Webster a great case on a silver platter.

    A re-formed Commission could reinstate Webster before the case ever got to court, though I suppose there’s the separate question of if he’d want his job back at that point.

    One thing that does seem kind of odd: if Webster was expected to retire within a year or so, why isn’t a succession plan already in place?

    Steve: Webster’s heir-apparent was hired last fall. Whether he will want to stay at the TTC, or go to a city with saner politics, I don’t know. He almost certainly would be passed over as Gary’s replacement as he isn’t one of Rob’s boys.


  16. I agree with Matt. Webster should file for wrongful dismissal or whatever its called under the labour act. Its blatantly obvious to the thousands of Torontonians that Ford is doing this for is own best interest, and not the citizen of Toronto, or the TTC for that matter. I hear that the TTC plans on getting rid of 4 other manages in the commission as well.

    I feel sorry for Ford, if he thinks he could get away with this is, he is sadly mistaken. If he even attempts at doing a similar tactic again with another city worker, someone will step up and fight him like he’s never seen before; whether this is council, a grievance, a lawsuit whatever it may be, Doug and Rob (Dumb and Dumber, Big and Bigger or whatever you want to call them) will not last the next 2 and a half years they have


  17. [This comment has been edited]

    If Gary Webster is let go, will the new CGM of the TTC have to swear an oath to the mayor?

    “I swear: I will be faithful and obedient to the leader of the city of Toronto and people, Rob Ford, to observe the law, and to conscientiously fulfill my official duties, so help me God!”


    Seems that what will happen if one is to work for Rob Ford these days.

    Steve: The oath is a paraphrase in English of one used by a much more heinous dictator. For all that we might think Mayor Ford a fool and a bully, comparisons to a villain responsible for murder on an immense scale are, I believe, inappropriate and unhelpful.


  18. I realize this sounds paranoid and insane, but I’m beginning to wonder if maybe what we’re seeing here is exactly what Ford wants to happen.

    It seems like all of this wrangling may well prevent anything — subway, LRT, swan boat — from getting built in the foreseeable future. Anybody with two brain cells to rub together can see that a politically-motivated firing of a long-serving manager will inevitably make it difficult to find a competent replacement, and incompetent leadership would hobble the TTC’s ability to serve the city. Most people seem confused that Ford wouldn’t see the huge downside to his actions, but maybe that downside is, in fact, the whole point.

    It seems like either Ford is playing a colossal game of chicken, or he is willing to cripple the TTC just because they won’t dig his precious holes. But is it possible he has a motivation that makes crippling the TTC a worthwhile goal in itself? Would this somehow help him either break the union or privatize transit, or both? You have to believe he’d love to do both of those things. At the very least, is it possible that he actually doesn’t want to expand the TTC, and thinks he has figured out a way to avoid expanding the TTC while appearing to his supporters to be advancing their interests? Could it be that he realizes that transit expansion is not going to happen in a way that will get him votes, so by blowing the whole thing up and forcing his opponents on council to take control of (and blame for) the TTC, he is actually trying to protect his future electoral prospects by torpedoing the TTC?

    Again… I know it sounds crazy, but it seems like it makes more sense than actually believing that insisting on subways and firing the GM is actually good policy. Can he really be that stupid? I realize it’s extremely tempting to believe that he is, and perhaps he is stupid enough and stubborn enough to actually do these things out of pure spite. But it seems to me that it is equally possible that there is some very careful calculation going on here.


  19. Seems like Karen Stintz decided not to fight neither for Webster, nor for TTC Board support

    “Although she doesn’t believe he deserves to be fired, TTC chair Karen Stintz says she’ll abide by the transit board’s decision if it axes TTC chief general manager Gary Webster at a special meeting Tuesday.

    Stintz told reporters she won’t push for another special city council meeting to reinstate Webster or have her Toronto Transit Commission rivals removed from the TTC board”.

    In this regard I don’t understand how is she going to implement LRT plan? Obviously, Ford allies will block any effort to proceed with LRT. And if Stintz is not going to axe Ford’s influence on TTC now (which is basically destructive), then when? Perhaps, there are some other details to this story we don’t know (for instance, she didn’t get a support from the councilors this time).


  20. I love this city, so it’s sad to see what we’ve become. It’s gotten me so despondent that I’ve actually thought about running for mayor despite zero political experience simply because I’m a sane person. (Though I guess I’m insane for thinking I would have a shot lol).

    In all seriousness though, while it’s great to see Ford and Co. backpedaling and really boxing themselves into a corner that will hopefully be the start of their electoral defeats, I’m so upset over the fact that yet again this city as a whole will very likely miss an absolutely incredible chance to expand our system to one that will properly serve our city and the surrounding area, and all because of stubborn partisan politics that have no place in the municipal politics game. So much for respect for taxpayers. It makes me sick.


  21. Hi,

    Below the email I just sent to the members of the TTC board… at the urging of TTCRiders.

    I am so unhappy at this hypocritical, anti-democratic, bullying plan by these councillors…

    It truly is an attack on every professional public servant at city hall – irrespective of whether or not you agree or disagree with the mayor or councillor Stiniz’s plans for the future of public transit.

    Not to mention a waste of probably half a million dollars in severance to fire at 30+ year veteran of the TTC and well respected public servant at a time when these same councillors are saying we “can’t afford to increase transit service because we don’t have the money”

    Dear Councillors Di Giorgio, Crisanti, Palacio, Minnan-Wong and Kelly:

    I wanted to write to you to express my sincere concern at the plan you have for the removal of Gary Webster, current TTC Chief General Manager at today’s Special TTC Board meeting.

    The first and main reason for my concern is that your decision to remove Mr. Webster goes against a fundamental principle of our form of democratic municipal government: i.e. The principle that public servants, like Mr Webster, are required by law and to the best of their ability, to give their professional opinion to council, which council is free to accept or reject.

    At no time has Mr. Webster provided anything except his professional opinion to council, hence there is no basis for his being removed.

    Secondary as a tax payer I strongly object to you choosing to spend tax payers dollars on a severance package for Mr. Webster when there is no basis in fact or performance for his being fired other than your own desire to see someone removed who has simply been doing his job on behalf of all citizens of Toronto.

    I understand that this severance package could amount of half a million dollars – money which would be much better spent on improving TTC services which you have recently cut in several areas.

    As councillors who claim to be concerned about “government waste” I urge you on this basis alone to reconsider and not spend tax dollars to fire a well respected and professional public servant. Please, do not let your political disagreement with Mr. Webster get in the way of making the financially and ethically correct decision.

    Yours faithfully,


  22. @James Bow writes:

    “Lastman and David Gunn did NOT get along, resulting in Gunn retiring from his position”

    It was actually Howard Moscoe for whom David had a visceral dislike, leading him to tender his resignation (Oct 7, 1998, effective April 1999) over what he saw as political meddling in the efficient running of the TTC (Commissioners wanted to purchase low-floor accessible buses, not rebuild non-accessible GM New Looks, despite there being no funding for what Mr. Gunn felt was the low-floor “junk” then available — e.g carbon steel frame Orions rusting after just 7 years service despite a “12-year design life” — leading Mr. Gunn to convene a North American low-floor bus design conference of NA transit properties at the TTC in Feb 1999).

    In fact James, David Gunn & Mel Lastman got along famously as Mel supported David’s cherished state-of-good-repair program of basic system maintenance as a quid pro quo for David’s/TTC’s support for Mel’s cherished Sheppard subway (to be paid for in part by selling station naming rights! Lastman/Ford deja vu: Fooled me once shame on you… fooled me twice, shame on me!)

    In September 1997, during the Mega-City’s first municipal election campaign, David Gunn got up from his Monday morning Management Meeting, that I attended, left the room to put on his coat and came back to tell us “I am going up to see the Mayor (Mel at North York Civic Centre) to remind him we’re supporting the Sheppard subway in return for his support of the state-of-good-repair”

    David’s TTC retirement “party” organized by my M&PA Events Staff was pointedly held at the most unlikely location: the dirty, grimy, oily Duncan bus rebuild garage, tarted up with festive banners & balloons, where David & Mayor Mel climbed aboard buses in various stages of rebuild and hammed it up, sticking their heads out windows posing for pictures with goofy grins, , like two long-lost school chums!

    It’s no surprise that his retirement party was held at the industrial Duncan Shops rather than a more convention banquet hall setting, as it was where Montreal “GM carcasses” purchased for $10,000 were rebuilt for $250,000 or half the price of a new bus, and remarkably were the most reliable bus in the TTC fleet and the operators’ favourite vehicle and clearly David Gunn’s pride & joy!

    A couple years after his retirement, David Gunn came back to City Hall, at Mel’s request, to conduct a six-month assessment of the City’s administrative procedures and to recommend changes to the Mayor. This was after after the Mayor dismissed Chief Administrative Officer Michael Garrett, as Mr. Ford has just orchestrated with the TTC’s highly principled, competent and ethical CGM Gary Webster — a true gentleman, an apolitical & loyal civil servant — unafraid to speak truth to power: “We don’t recommend spending money you don’t have for an asset you don’t need.”


  23. Bob. Thanks for the correction. I was only aware of the tensions between the two over Gunn’s criticism of building the Sheppard subway, without a policy of a state of good repair.


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