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Toronto Committee picks four white men for TTC board; told to try again

Commuters wait to a subway train at Keele station in Toronto.

Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail

The citizen nominees to the board of Toronto's transit agency are being reconsidered after questions were raised about their lack of diversity.

Mayor John Tory said he had "concerns" about the result of the nomination process – which came up with four white men – and had asked the committee tasked with the selection to try again.

"While I respect the independent public appointments process, I have concerns with any result that does not respect the city's policy to meet both diversity and gender representation," Mr. Tory said in a statement. "I have spoken to the chair of the Civic Appointments committee who will work with the committee to reconsider these appointments taking into account the city's policy of gender, equity and diversity."

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The TTC carries more than 10 million riders each week, 57 per cent of them women. Its board is made up mostly of politicians, but includes four citizen members, whose attendance records and engagement at meetings have varied widely over the past few years.

The committee that made the selections for the next board was chaired by deputy mayor Denzil Minnan-Wong, who said he would be happy to do as the mayor asked. But he defended the picks, calling them "the best candidates with the most skills, ability and talent," and pointed to their experience in the infrastructure, legal and finance industries.

"We heard very strongly from members of council and the public that we need to have a strong commission who are going to deal with the very difficult challenges of moving transit forward," he said. "This was the team we picked amongst some very good candidates that we thought would be able to address all the talent we needed."

The four people chosen by the committee were Rick Byers, Alan Heisey, Ron Lalonde and Kevin Marshman.

Mr. Heisey had already been serving as a citizen member and was the only one of the current four to get the nod again. Before his renomination was widely known, his service was praised by union head Bob Kinnear.

On Twitter on Wednesday, Mr. Kinnear called Mr. Heisey the "only knowledgeable member" of the commission and urged him to make a "Quick Return, Please!!"

The current four citizen members include two women, one of whom has gone public with the fact that she had reapplied. Maureen Adamson, who is also president of the Michener Institute for Health Sciences, said Friday that gender balance is important on the TTC board, which should reflect the city it serves.

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"There's no question [the nominees] are accomplished in their careers, but when you look at a board in its entirety, it has to be beyond just that," she said. "You do have to have some representative membership."

Mr. Heisey, a lawyer and former member of the Toronto Parking Authority and Toronto Police Services boards, declined comment on the selection process on Friday.

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