TTC chief general manager ‘shut down’ and ‘tossed out’

Gary Webster disagreed with the mayor and now he’s out of a job because of it, Councillor Janet Davis says.

The Toronto Transit Commission today voted 5-4 to terminate Webster — its chief general manager and a 36-year veteran of the TTC — because, she said, he would not side with Mayor Rob Ford on his transit plan.

“He has been telling the truth based on over 30 years of professional practice and the mayor refuses to listen,” Davis said. “He has been shut down and now he is being tossed out.”

This is not how I expected or wanted it to end.

—Gary Webster

The decision to fire Webster was made following a three-hour closed-door meeting at City Hall that TTC chair Karen Stintz described as “difficult” and “heated”.

“Today is a clear demonstration of an abuse of power and an abuse of privilege,” councillor and TTC commissioner Maria Augimeri said before the vote. “I don’t want any part of it.”

“This is not how I expected or wanted it to end,” Webster said after learning his fate. “Clearly the choice has been made to replace me as general manager and I accept that.”

Stintz, who was one of the four to vote against terminating Webster’s contract, said the commission’s will must be honoured.

TTC operating officer Andy Byford agreed.

“The commission has spoken and we move on,” he said.

TTC vice-chair Peter Milczyn and commissioner John Parker voted with Stintz and Augimeri against the firing.

Commissioners Vincent Crisanti, Frank Di Giorgio, Norman Kelly, Denzil Minnan-Wong and Cesar Palacio voted in favour of terminitating Webster’s contract early, which was set to expire next July.

“Under Webster’s contract, there was a provision for terminating employment without just cause,” Stintz said. “That is what the commission relied on.”

The hunt now begins for a new chief general manager for the TTC, which was not able to find an interim replacement for Webster, Stintz said.

“It is important that we get the search underway immediately,” she said.