News, Politics

Head Of TTC Fired; Toronto Council Divided About Transit

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TTC
Toronto streets are known for being full with people, bikes, cars, and TTC streetcars. Image: Benson Kua

The head of the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) was fired from his job this week. Most people think it’s because he disagreed with Toronto’s mayor’s plans for public transit.

In this case, public transit refers to the city’s system of buses, subways and streetcars.

Gary Webster has worked at the TTC since 1986; for nearly six years he has been the TTC’s Chief General Manager.

As the head of the TTC, part of Webster’s job was to advise Toronto’s politicians about how the city’s transit system should operate.

Both the City and the TTC agree that Toronto needs more public transportation; many bus and subway riders find the city’s transit system slow and overcrowded at times.

However, city council is divided as to how it should be built.

Mayor Rob Ford wants the new transit line to be underground—a subway.

Two weeks ago, Gary Webster said it would be better to build an above-ground “light rail transit” line.

On Tuesday, a special meeting was held. At that meeting, the politicians voted 5-4 in favour of firing Gary Webster.

The firing will cost Toronto more than half a million dollars. That’s because Webster has a contract with the city, a legal document that guarantees him a job for at least two more years.

TTC Light Rail
Light Rail Transit Lines (LRT) run between both directions of traffic, in a separate portion, free from cars, bikes, and buses. Image: Dylan Passmore

Now the city must find a new head of the TTC, and they must do it quickly. The TTC is scheduled to receive $8.4-billion from the province of Ontario to extend its transit system; it must decide how it’s going to use that money.

The Premier of Ontario, Dalton McGuinty, is becoming frustrated with Toronto council’s inability to decide how to do it.

He told The Toronto Star that “we’re running out of patience.”

There may have been other reasons for firing Gary Webster, but the politicians have been told by their lawyer that they can’t talk about the situation with the media.

CURRICULUM CONNECTIONS
By Jonathan Tilly & Joyce Grant

Writing/Discussion Prompt
If it is true that Gary Webster was fired because he advised politicians to support a plan that went against Mayor Ford, what should happen next?

Do you think it’s important for advisors to support their leaders, even when they disagree with them? What would you do if you disagreed with someone who was in charge? 

Reading Prompt: Elements of Style
On Monday, TKN published a story about NBA phenom, Jeremy Lin. Readers were asked to look at the text to see whether they could find clues about how the author felt about him.

Take a look at today’s article and ask yourself the same question: What clues in the text tell you about how the author feels?

Compare the styles of the two authors and explore how these two authors share their opinions in a text. Consider word choice, sentence structure, and what information is being included / excluded).

Primary
Identify some elements of style, including voice, word choice, and different
types of sentences, and explain how they help readers understand texts (OME, Reading: 2.4).

Junior
Identify various elements of style – including word choice and the use of similes, personification, comparative adjectives, and sentences of different types, lengths, and structures – and explain how they help communicate meaning (OME, Reading: 2.4).

Intermediate
Identify various elements of style – including foreshadowing, metaphor,
and symbolism – and explain how they help communicate meaning and
enhance the effectiveness of texts (OME, Reading: 2.4).

Grammar Feature: Comma (Introductory material)
A comma can be used in many ways, but one of the most common uses is separating the introduction of a sentence from the rest of the sentence. Today’s article includes many examples including:

“In this case, public transit refers to the city’s system of buses, subways and streetcars.”

“As the head of the TTC, part of Webster’s job was to advise Toronto’s politicians about how the city’s transit system should operate.”

“Two weeks ago, Gary Webster said it would be better to build an above-ground “light rail transit” line.”

As you can see, the sentences would still make perfect sense without the introduction. The introductions are included specifically to help readers understand the text and to create flow. As a result, the comma is a really important punctuation mark because it tells readers what’s the introduction and what’s the body of the sentence.

Place a comma after the introduction of each sentence below:

1. Once upon a time there was an old man who lived in a boat.
2. On Wednesday the Ottawa Senators won a big game.
3. In case I haven’t made myself clear don’t touch any of your sisters toys!
4. If what you’re saying is true I don’t have any homework tonight.