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Why do empty busses run all night?

“Why do we run empty buses on the Transitway all night long?” asked an overwhelming number of residents who live along or near the City’s dedicated bus routes, when quizzed by Mayoralty Candidate Darrell Duck on what their biggest Campaign issue was.

“We do? Sufferin’ Succotash!” replied Duck, in shock and dismay.

The buses, they go round and round
Empty buses cruise up and down
Prisoners on the carousel of waste!

- Sung to the tune of ‘The Circle Game’, by Joni Mitchell

Joni Mitchell - © cdn.stereogum.comJoni Mitchell – as she was when Duck first met her…

“I read, on the Web, that Ottawa’s cost per hour to run buses on our transit system is the highest in the known world,” Darrel Duck states. “Why are we running empty buses all night, every night, up and down the Transitway when OC Transpo says it’s looking for ways to save on operating costs?”

An Ottawa Citizen article in 2012 stated that, at that time, the City was paying $218 per hour to keep each of Transpo’s buses on the road.  Given that buses run every half hour up and down the Transitway between midnight and 5 a.m., and because the trip from Fallowfield to Orleans takes a good two hours, that’s 8 buses altogether, in constant rotation, or $1,744 per hour, times 5 hours a night, times 364 days a year, which equals a potential $3,174,o8o annual operations budget saving for Transpo.

“Even in Toronto, ‘The City That Almost Never Sleeps’, City Transit (buses, subways/ light rail and streetcars) run only from 6 a.m. to about 1 a.m. on the busiest days of the week,” Duck observes. “Why are we paying over $3 million a year for something we don’t need – providing a service that is not being used?”

Sources within Transpo who declined to be named warned that Duck’s proposal to cut back on bus service during times when nobody is riding would seriously threaten the driver and mechanic employment levels guaranteed in the transit unions’ contracts, not to mention making less available hours for the ‘compulsory overtime’ which is also entrenched in current driver contracts, designed to ensure that the median wage and benefit package for bus drivers in Ottawa remains at or above the current $70+ thousand per year.

“It’s enough to drive a duck to drink!” Duck exclaimed.


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Duck Byte: City Employee Labour Actions

Q: What would you do, if elected, in the event of future strikes by municipal employees in essential services such as Sewer, Water and Hydro, Police and Fire, Snow Removal and Transportation Safety, and – last but not least – OC Transpo?

A: Let me tell you a little story. I first met Ronald Regan in the 50s, when we were both shooting TV shows in Monument Valley. He had recently taken over from The Old Ranger hosting Death Valley Days and a bunch of us from Warner’s were just over the next butte, on location shoots for the next season of the Bugs Bunny and Roadrunner shows. We all used to get together after work and bend an elbow or two ’round the old camp fire – where Ronnie and I discovered a mutual interest in politics. He was actually President of the Screen Actors’ Guild over roughly the same period I was head of the Federation of Animated Actors.

Sure, Ronnie switched loyalties to the Republicans in ’62 and I was always a Democrat, but that didn’t keep us from discussing the issues in a civil manner. He was a real gentleman, unlike some folks you meet in politics. And don’t even get me started about Joe McCarthy! Anyway, we remained good friends to the end of his life and I often talked to him about the challenges he faced in the Whitehouse. The night he fired the Air Traffic Controllers, I called him up immediately on the private line and Nancy put me right through.

Ronnie just said, “Well… The way I see it, if the service is essential, then it’s an Essential Service. And I’ll be damned if I’m taking a train all the way out to the Ranch for Christmas!”

He basically said to the controllers, “Yer done, boys. And so is your union. You’re welcome to come back in to work on Monday, but you’ll be playing by my rules.”

Duck-the-Gunslingerfinal“I’ve played ‘The Gunslinger’ myself more than once…”

Well… I’ve played ‘The Gunslinger’ myself more than once in my career and I can tell you Ronnie wasn’t the only guy out there who’s not afraid to call a spade a shovel! Having worked at the highest levels in private-sector labour organizations, I know the difference between negotiation and blackmail.

Previous Mayors and Councils have balked at asking senior levels of government to declare Transit and other City services officially Essential, which would have allowed any right-thinking administration to order striking workers back to the job. Enough with the nonsense and shilly-shallying! I say, if some guy wants $70k a year to drive a bus, he’d better be prepared to put up with a little scheduling inconvenience now and then, and to work within an operations structure in which the ‘bosses’ actually do the bossing!


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Candidate Confronts Cancer Question!

As everyone in the know now knows, Toronto Mayor Rob Ford has been diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. The outcome remains far from certain. However, his run for re-election to the Mayor’s office is over. So… Should we stop making fun of him,  strike up the mournful theme music and say that he was not such as bad guy after all?

Rob and Doug Ford - © huffpost comRob Ford (right) and brother Doug. In the midst of some
Council Chamber intrigue. A memento of happier times.

“Not on your life!” says Ottawa Mayoralty Candidate Darrell Duck. “Laying off Ford politically just because he’s got a dread disease would be the stereotypically Canadian thing to do. But Christie Blatchford got it right in her column a couple of weeks back: It’s essential to separate the issue and implications of his unfortunate illness from the facts of his outrageous conduct and political china-shop-bullishness!

“Okay. We all expect our politicians to put their careers and their wallets first, from time to time, and to lie and cheat and misappropriate and so on, a little, now and then, in pursuit of their personal goals. We just look the other way and say, ‘Well, it could be worse…’ That’s another Canadian behavioural stereotype. Sometimes, however, it gets out of hand and folks just can’t look the other way any more. Take Montréal, for example. But, most of the time, the traditional Canadian Municipal Political System purrs along just fine.”

“It’s just that Ford’s antics crossed the line from simply jumping up and down in his own living room threatening to kill people to frolicking frantically to the tune of his own racist rant in an Etobicoke ethnic eatery. In the middle of the night. As the Brits say, that’s just not on! I believe that a responsible politician must draw a hard line between his or her private and public personae. What happens in my living room stays in my living room. What happens in public usually isn’t embarrassing, immoral or illegal.”

Duck maintains there are hard and fast rules any public figure should follow if he or she wants to maintain that all-important veneer of respectability in the eyes of his or her followers:

  • Never party with drug dealers. Even if they are some of your closest friends. You know they all have cell phones with cameras in them! And you never can tell what they might do after three or four heavy hits…
  • Wait until you get home from personal or public engagements before dipping into the sauce. After a long day, one shot leads to another. And another. And, maybe, seven or eight. The papers don’t put their morning editions to bed until about 8:30 p.m. and you want to be coherent if some night desk reporter calls on deadline looking for a comment.

Tree House Paparazzo
Not your friend.

  • Never do anything personal, like practicing naturism or teasing the dog in front of un-draped windows. Certainly not in your back yard. Even in the middle of the night. The neighbours are watching! And so is the paparazzo who’s just signed a long-term lease on the tree house across your back fence.
  • Finally, as Bill Clinton can attest, steer clear of women half your age who prefer the colour blue and profess a penetrating interest in fine cigars. No good can come of this.


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Duck Byte: Candidate Promises No ‘Family Ties’

Q: Your Opponents have been making much of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford’s decision not to run for his city’s highest office again after all, in light of his recent tumour diagnosis. They note that Ford’s brother, Doug, is running in Rob’s place while Rob will, instead, run for City Council in his home ward. However… The Ford Family Ballot Shuffle has revealed that a Ford nephew was slated to run for council in Ford’s home ward but stepped aside for the ailing Rob and will, instead, run for Board of Education. Are you planning to build a similar family empire here?

A: There will be no Duck Dynasty in Ottawa! I made my decision to run for Mayor in Canada’s Greatest City based on my own hopes, desires and fears for the future of my home place, not with the notion of riding my celebrity status to the political heights to feather the nests of members of my extended family.

Daffy and Donald - Not Exactly Buds
Duck and Cousin Donald: Not always on the best of terms…

I’ve heard the grumblings among my opponents. They point, with suspicion, to the fact that my cousin, Donald, and his nephews have been conspicuously absent from my campaign. Well, I can assure you they’re not lurking in the wings, waiting to make a dramatic entrance! They live in Anaheim! You could go there today and shake wings with them on the main drag at Disneyland. I know for a fact that Donny has no interest in politics. He did give it serious thought in his younger days, but lucrative contractual obligations with Disney and the probable consequences of his unfortunate speech impediment prevailed.

Besides, Donny and I have not always been on the best of terms. Not the tightest of buds, if you know what I mean.


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Critics challenge Duck to do Rehab!

Duck DefiantIn what looked, to most educated voters, like an underhanded, conspiratorial attack, critics from virtually all quarters today simultaneously challenged Ottawa Mayoral Candidate Darrel Duck to commit to a rehab program of at least 30 days if he is, ‘by some miracle’, elected to the City’s highest office.

“We might as well get it over with right off the bat,” an Open Letter signed by various community leaders, journalists and law enforcement officials states.

Duck reacted with shock, righteous indignation and even a little humility, reinforcing his steadfast position that what he does on his own time is his own business and will not affect the way he runs the City.

“Do I use drugs?” Duck went on. “Sure. But who doesn’t? I’d be a total wreck without my allopurinol, blood pressure meds and lorazipam. What other nonagenarian out there wouldn’t be?”

Addressing charges in the Open Letter that video exists of Duck taking controlled substances, the Candidate countered, “I have a prescription from my family doctor for that cortisone. My knees would never hold up under the pressure of a tough campaign like this without it!”

“There will certainly be no mid-day liquor store runs by City employees from my office,” Duck proclaimed, defiantly, allowing that he might phone out for Sushi now and then.


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Campaign Update: Duck Gives Thanks for Support!

The People’s (and Non-People’s) Choice, Darrell Duck, has completed Thanksgiving Week on the Municipal Election Campaign Trail and all indications point to a resounding victory for the plucky duck in the Ottawa Mayoral vote on October 27.

Duck on a Wave - © blogspot comDuck is riding a tsunami of support!

It’s been another tumultuous week on the Ottawa Mayoralty Campaign Trail for  powerhouse come-from-behind candidate Darrell “Daffy” Duck! With new polls just in indicating he’s a shoe-in for the City’s Top Job among Non-Human voters and kudos from all quarters on his UBER ride sharing service policy, Duck is riding a tsunami of support.

Although he has been barred from any remaining mayoral debates, Duck remains confident that his message will resound among the populace, given another week of intensive waddling door-to-door, meeting his People. And he remains steadfast in the wake of villainous murmurs from the cowering opposition about inappropriate personal behaviour and the spectre of rampant nepotism under a Duck Regime.

“That-th dethpicable!” Duck asserts. “And I’ll address publicly any allegations anyone cares to make openly! C’mon! I dare yah!”


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