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Metropolitan Toronto Column: Commissioners Don't Have Union Security

Page 7, by Stanley Westall

Allan Lamport will be a TTC commissioner until 1963. He was reappointed by a majority vote of Metro Council. If his follow commissioners re-elect him chairman, he will receive $15,000 for running the multi-million-dollar transit operation. If they don’t, he’ll draw a minimum salary of $8,000 (they did. —ed, 2017).

But for a moment or two this week, the spectre of uncertainty was perched on his well-padded shoulder. The members of Metro who voted against putting exuberant Allan Lamport back on the TTC weren’t voting against Mr. Lamport as an individual, they said.

“I’m not vindictive”, Marie Curtis explained, anxious to assure the area that Long Branch held no hard feelings, even if they had lost the last round in that battle to hold up the subway.

Nate Phillips, who had fought so strongly and so unsuccessfully against the payment of the Lamport libel costs, was voting with Marie on the same issue — that the appointment of Mr. Lamport, despite his obvious qualities, should be left to the 1959 Metro members.

Big Gus Edwards, the foghorn voice of Mimico, was the only man with a different principle at stake. “Lamport was for the subway; I was against the subway. How can I go to the people of Mimico and tell them I voted for one of the chief culprits?”

(Chided by Philip Givens, Gus insisted he meant nothing slanderous by his use of the word culprit. “I always think that my friend, Allan Lamport, must have been a mischievous child when his mother was bringing him up”, he said.)

Common sense won. Council accepted the argument that if they were not competent to judge Mr. Lamport’s performance after watching it for two years, who was?

But in his comfortably carpeted eyrie above the Davisville subway station, Allan Lamport, who has survived worse political crises, felt a moment’s apprehension. There is no such thing as union security for commissioners — the unelected men who live in the half-light of the political world.

(These should not be confused with the permanent civil servants of local government, who bear the same title.)

As a group, they rarely come before the public. Many of them hold positions by virtue of decisions made years ago by other governments and out-dated circumstances. Some do public work for a reward which cannot compensate for the time spent away from their regular business — others, like Allan Lamport, are paid for a full-time administrative job.

Fred Hall was the Reeve of York Township. The Province made him a magistrate and he now draws $10,000 a year as chairman of the Metro Licensing Commission, sitting with Fred Gardiner ($3,000) and Magistrate C.A. Thoburn ($3,000). Charles Bick was the Reeve of Forest Hill. He became a magistrate and heads the Metro Police Commission at $12,000 a year, with Mayor Phillips ($5,000), Magistrate T.S. Elmore ($5,000), Mr. Gardiner ($5,000), and vice-chairman Judge Ian M. Macdonnell ($6,000).

J. Ardagh Scythes, Allan Lamport’s vice-chairman, is a businessman who gets $9,000 for his work at the TTC. Clive M. Sinclair, former Reeve of Etobicoke, Charles A. Walton, realtor, and William Russell, a nominee of labor, each receive $8,000 as commissioners.

The three members of the Toronto Parking Authority, former Mayor Ralph C. Day, jeweller John F. Ellis and union official Alfred Ward, get $1,800 each.

Bert Merson, another nominee of labor, gets $12,000 a year as chairman of the Toronto Hydro Electric System. Provincial representative, businessman John McMeehan, gets $8,000 as a commissioner. The Mayor of Toronto serves free of charge.

Senior County Court Judge Robert Forsyth gets $3,000 a year as chairman of the city’s Committee of Adjustment, which sites every other Monday to deal with variations in the zoning bylaw. George A. Lister, real estate valuer, and Professor H.H. Medill, former head of the School of Architecture, receive $2,500. Alternative members, Frank Holden, a former building commissioner, and Paul McLaughlin, realtor, receive $40 for each meeting.

Non-elected members of the Toronto housing authority, C.J. Woolsey, a nominee of labor[,] William C. Dies, who represents war veterans, and Mrs. S.J. Allin, of the Women Electors, each get $1,500.

Harbor commissioners and planning board members receive no remuneration.

You can’t get rich working for the people. The job’s not steady and the hours are long. But at least they won’t be worried on December 1.