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(Posted 6:30 p.m., Feb. 22)
OC Transpo boss sacked as part of surprising restructuring move

By Fred Sherwin
Orléans Online

OC Transpo's controversial general manager Alain Mercier is out and veteran city bureaucrat John Manconi is Ottawa's new transit chief after city council approved a shuffling of the deck chairs this afternoon.

Mercier has been in and out of hot water with successive city councils ever since the lengthy OC Transpo strike in 2009. Most recently he was taken to task for failing to notify city councillors about a accident involving two buses on the Transitway near Tunney's Pasture.

Mercier was brought in to replace Alain Carle in 2007. Carle was fired after only one year on the job.

One of the persistent criticisms about Mercier, especially from the union that represents OC Transpo's drivers and maintenance workers, was that he didn't have a public transit background.

Prior to coming to Ottawa, he was president of a Montreal trucking company. He also ran a rail parts company and was with VIA Rail for 14 years.

When informed that Mercier had been fired, ATU president Garry Queale told the Ottawa Sun that his membership would be "ecstatic" about the news.

"His best just wasn't good enough," said Queale, adding that he felt like he was "pissing in the wind" when dealing with the former transit head.

The union and OC Transpo have been trying to negotiate a new long term contract since early December. The two sides agreed to a one year extension back in November that is due to expire at the end of March.

With Mercier's exit, it will now be up to Manconi to try and negotiate a new deal.

Manconi was formerly the general manager of public works. Under the reorganization, he will report directly to deputy city manager of operations Steve Kanellakos.

Deputy city manager Nancy Shepers will head up a new department responsible for "planning and infrastructure", which will oversee the Lansdowne Park redevelop.m.ent and all other future public-private partnerships.

Larry O'Keefe will replace Manconi as GM for public works.

(Posted 1:00 a.m., Feb. 18)

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