Posts Tagged ‘morning line’

The Morning Line: Ontario’s dilemma.

Wednesday, May 16th, 2018

This is probably the most difficult Morning Line Babel-on-the-Bay has produced in ten years. It might just be the one that besmirches our reputation. The question in this election are the polls following the voters or are the voters following the polls?

But I am convinced that the pollsters are busy drinking their own bath water. They have no clue as to what is really happening in Ontario.

My only defence is  that a morning line is produced to provide a starting point for the totalizator that computes payouts for pari-mutuel betting at racetracks. It is the horses themselves that make a horse race.

Conservative Party: 1 to 1

I have always had this secret belief that Canadians had to be much smarter than Americans. They have to survive and thrive through our cold-cold winters. I was almost convinced of our superiority when the Americans (accidently) elected Donald Trump president. I was proud to say at the time, that Canadians would never do anything that dumb. Now, I am not so sure.

But I figure the voters of Ontario have three weeks left to come to their senses and keep a blow-hard, Trump wannabe like Doug Ford from becoming premier.

Liberal Party: 3 to 1

What really upsets me about this possible outcome is that I wrote over a year ago that Kathleen Wynne was the problem for the liberals. She did not have to prove it. Yet, much can happen over the next three weeks and if you want to bet anything on this election, you will be best to settle for even money.

Premier Wynne has one more chance to deliver the killing blow to Doug Ford in a debate format. She had better make the most of it. Now that Ford is out in the open and vulnerable to political challenge, his inexperience and bluster will show. She has to stop letting him set the agenda.

New Democratic Party: 9 to 1

This is Andrea Horwath’s third strike. The news media play up her long-shot status but nobody reasonable expects much from her and her team. The only thing she has going for her at the moment is that she is not as disliked as much as her opponents and might have to referee in a minority government situation. With the similarity between the NDP and liberal policies, she would have little problem in supporting the liberals. You have to figure that an NDP-conservative coalition would not last two weeks.


It might seem a bit rude to leave Mike Schreiner and his greens out of these figures but it is really out of respect for his feelings. You would not believe the odds against getting even one green party member elected at this time.


Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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Donald Trump Lite and the Ontario PCs.

Sunday, March 11th, 2018

After spending Saturday afternoon watching Rosemary Barton and CBC News struggling with the Ontario Conservative fiasco, I was not sure whether the party or the news media did the worst job. It was embarrassing. I actually paid the CBC $6.85 plus GST for the right to watch that screw-up on streaming video. And I want my money back.

I spent a career working on news conferences, conventions, political rallies, candidate selections and leadership contests across Canada. I always worked to the rule that whatever happens is supposed to happen and you live with it.

But I never considered that you could have a disaster such as the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party leadership announcement.

The worst of it was that nobody seemed to be in charge. There seemed to be nobody willing to deal with the news media. There was no information shared with the attendees. They waited for hours without anyone coming to the microphone to apologize for the delays and then they were sent home without answers. Like wayward children, they were sent to bed without their supper.

What really amazes me is that when you are using computer collection of data (such as voting) that you would not write the simple program needed to count those votes. The only time I complained about the weighting of the ridings is when I tried to simulate a program to do that in preparing Babel-on-the-Bay’s Morning Line.

I estimated that there would be less than 70,000 votes cast. It was also clear that Tanya Granic Allen was the fringe candidate. She did better than expected but still came fourth.

It was the collapse of the Caroline Mulroney campaign that surprised us. Like her father, her campaign was just hot air. She blew it.

But it was the attempt to make all electoral districts equal that left the Tories in a mess. Like the electoral college in the U.S., the Tories had an undemocratic system. In the end, Christine Elliott won the most votes and Doug Ford won the election.

All I could think of last night was that Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne had a chance to resign last year. We can only hope that she takes a look at what Hillary Clinton did wrong in the last U.S. election. She has to remember that there are lots of angry conservatives in Ontario. Her and her party have to win the rest.


Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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Politics is a numbers racket.

Thursday, January 18th, 2018

It is time to admit it: I used to be a numbers runner. Different from the numbers racket in the United States, in Canada, it is a political game. I used to announce numbers provided by my political party to see if we could draw out numbers from the other parties. It was usually a fun game where nobody got hurt or really won.

This subject occurred to me the other day when reading about the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party having (maybe) 200,000 members. The Tory’s were so proud of that figure that they let that silly ass Patrick Brown announce it. There is absolutely nothing surprising about that figure.

When you consider what has happened since its last leader Timmy Hudak embarrassed the provincial Conservatives back in 2014, the party was at its lowest membership. Nobody will provide precise figures but the paid-up membership ($10 per year, please) was likely to have been less than 20,000 die-hard Tories.

And you should note that just because you have not paid for the current year, you are not immediately removed from the lists. It is easy for you to come out to some party event and pay to bring your membership current. In the 2015 leadership there were candidates for leader signing up new members in wholesale numbers and probably increased the membership to more than 80,000. Since about half of those new sign-ups were newcomers to Ontario from the Indian Sub-Continent signed-up by organizers for Patrick Brown, it really was no contest. (Who paid for those memberships is a good question?)

What causes the real boost to the party’s numbers is the upcoming election in June of this year. With questionable polls showing a supposed walk in the park for the Tories to win, there is a lot of interest in the new, redrawn or existing 124 electoral districts. This has sent out an army of people supporting this or that Conservative candidate to sign up people who might support their candidate. A candidate signing up 3000 to 4000 new members in an electoral district is not an unknown occurrence. These contests leading up to the 2018 election have also produced more than the average number of claims of fraud, malfeasance, chicanery and even some serious lawsuits.

Mind you as more and more people find out more about Tory Leader Patrick Brown, his chances of winning are diminishing. We will supply you with a Morning Line on the contest at the end of April.


Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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The constipated Conservative contest.

Sunday, April 2nd, 2017

Back on March 11 and 12, Babel-on-the-Bay published its morning line for the current Conservative Party of Canada leadership. We are somewhat surprised that nothing has changed. With two more months to go at the time, candidates’ teams needed to assess their strategy and make their changes for the home stretch. April is the home stretch in this race and half the candidates seem unaware.

With ballots being sent to all members of the party by the end of April, that will be the end of the game. The announcement of the winner will take place in Toronto at the end of May.

Of the possible winners, only the top seven will be of interest. They are the ‘possibles’ as described in the morning line:

Kevin O’Leary, no change at 20 to 1. He has proved himself short-tempered, apolitical and out of his depth. It is probably just as well that O’Leary is in the race. He is taking some of the publicity away from Kellie Leitch and that can only be a good thing. Even if he is number one on the first ballot because of name recognition, he is nobody’s second choice. And it is second and third choice votes that will count in this race.

Kellie Leitch, it is possible that her vote odds have dropped from 15 to 1 to 30 to 1. It hardly matters though as she is in the same boat as O’Leary with nowhere to grow.

Andrew Scheer, we gave him 12 to 1 because of his second vote possibilities. He is a safe candidate in the caucus’ opinion but he is no leader. Frankly, he might be the favourite of the Liberal’s in Ottawa because there is nowhere he will take the Conservative Party. He would be a stop-gap leader.

Maxime Bernier, is a mixed bag. His 10 to 1 odds reflect his rejection by the Quebec caucus. They see Bernier as a Libertarian who is hurting them in Quebec rather than helping. He has failed to convince the rest of the country that he is anything but a playboy. If money talks, it could win him a few second votes but not enough.

Erin O’Toole, at 9 to 1, might be the only candidate to have improved his odds. Peter MacKay’s endorsement will help solidify his strength in the Atlantic provinces. We are just not seeing the potential in Ontario and the West. He could be the sleeper.

Lisa Raitt, at 6 to 1, we still like Lisa Raitt’s chances. She has got to be second choice for lots of Conservative members. The rules are working for this lady. Given a lead out of Ontario, she can win with just second votes from the West.

Michael Chong, at 5 to 1, we are seeing the M.P. as a bit of an enigma. It all depends on how party members are perceiving his concerns about how the party functions. And the other factor is membership sales by his opponents. There are still questions to be answered.

Under the rules of this leadership race, no candidate can back out past this point in time. Does that rule out the stalking horse who can send his votes to another candidate? And would it be worth it?


Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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Canada’s Conservative Conundrum.

Friday, March 3rd, 2017

It is fascinating studying the 14 aspirants in the race for the leadership of the Conservative Party of Canada. It is also hard to believe. Just where would any of these people lead the party? There is certainly no John George Diefenbaker in this baker’s dozen.

Yes, a baker’s dozen is really 12 plus one but it appears this race has a backfield of 12 and two that are at some point going to be left broken and bleeding on the stage because the others are fed up with them.

Whether Kellie Leitch or Kevin O’Leary survive is in the hands of the 12-person jury of their peers. The very fact that Leitch and O’Leary are the two best known candidates is not only frightening but why either of them thinks they can win is confusing. O’Leary lives in Boston, Massachusetts, does not speak French, knows nothing about the job of leader, has never been elected to anything and has nothing to contribute. And he can hardly use bigotry al a Trump because Leitch got there first.

Leitch is pathetic in her attempts to fuse the Trump bigotry with her big-eyed, little girl pose. As someone who has taught public speaking, it was painful to watch as much as we did of her recent and obviously heavily edited video trying to explain her “Canadian values” pitch to Conservatives. She even goes back to the Mike Harris “Common Sense Solution” in reaching for code words that appeal to the right-wing of her party.

Kellie Leitch’s only asset is that she is a sitting Member of Parliament. Her electoral district is in that swath of ridings across central Ontario where they have periodically tried to put a bounty on Liberals. She might be a frontrunner but will not grow much in the ballot counting.

What Leitch and O’Leary will have a hard time overcoming is the voting system the Conservatives will be using in May to determine their next leader. Each electoral district across Canada will be equal and the voters can indicate their second, third, fourth votes and so on. As nobody is the least bit likely to have 50 per cent plus one on the first few ballots, it really will be an election where the losers are the choosers.

But that will not prevent us to from producing a morning line for the punters who want to see the odds on the race before placing a bet. The good news-bad news is that there are lots of longshots for the gamblers.


Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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Is it plagiarism or research?

Thursday, January 17th, 2013

The wife wants to stop delivery of the Toronto Star. The truth is that The Star costs us almost four times as much each year as it costs us to maintain this web site. And then we see an opinion piece this morning by our old friend Bob Hepburn that follows our Morning Line stories of early this month. Bob knows the difference between plagiarism and research but he should have also researched what a morning line is with his sports page buddies.

A morning line is prepared by a knowledgeable track person who can establish a reasonable basis for opening the betting for the race. Obviously Bob Hepburn is no handicapper.  And, obviously, if you are going to propose odds on a race, you hardly wait until the horses are at post and, in this case, you need to know a lot more about the politics and people involved.

But even Babel-on-the-Bay is not perfect. We wrote our morning line in the hiatus between Christmas and New Years. And we lost our only bet. We bet ten bucks with a computer-savvy person that MPP Eric Hoskins would beat MPP Harinder Takhar. You would have thought that was a safe bet. We lost.

We overestimated the influence of social media with the younger Liberals. We really hate Facebook and Twitter and all the rest of them. They are shallow, intrusive and people who follow them usually need to get a life. We should have guessed that smart young Liberals might feel the same.

It was only just before the electoral district voting last week that Eric Hoskins came to Babel and we had a chance to see how young people reacted to him. We asked Eric a loaded question and then watched the young people especially as he answered. He was boring them. He never answered the question. He deserved to come last. From a positive and interesting start to his campaign, he became dull and desperate.

But we were right about the rest. Sandra Pupatello came first, as expected. And she has the potential to grow. MPP Kathleen Wynne might be a close second but she has little growth potential. And posing Wynne as progressive is a joke. All that people are doing with that line is trying to keep Gerard Kennedy from moving up to be a real contender. Gerard is the only political progressive in the race and that was where Babel’s young people went.

MPP Charles Sousa can relax, as his position in the party is secured. You might think the same for MPP Harinder Takhar but being a go-between with a specific ethnic group is not always the key to a political future.


Copyright 2013 © Peter Lowry

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The Morning Line: Harinder Takhar at 20 – 1.

Sunday, January 6th, 2013

Somebody has to come last. The one thing that stands out about the Mississauga-Erindale MPP’s campaign for the leadership is that it seems to be a parody of everything that is wrong with the McGuinty Liberal government in Ontario. It is as simple as Dalton Mcguinty and his treasurer saying that the provincial deficit must be brought under control. So, good Liberal Harinder makes the deficit his job one!

There is a propaganda sheet e-mailed frequently from the Liberal Party to Liberals across the province called the Daily Wire. You get the impression that Harinder reads it instead of the Globe and Mail.

To be fair, Harinder’s recent suggestion of using provincial bonds to fund infrastructure needs in the province is a better approach to an old problem and it is worth some study.

When the Liberal Party started to have trouble with ethnic groups taking over riding associations back in the late 1980s, the unimaginative solution was to concentrate more power around the party leadership. It has produced a steady downhill slide of the quality of politicians in this country and the highly centralized party structures that are, in turn, destroying the value of parliament and legislatures. It is also close to destroying the last vestiges of democracy in Canada’s political parties.

While Harinder is obviously highly regarded among those with roots in the Indian Sub-continent, he has to realize that is hardly a sufficient base for a try at the Premier’s job. He is going to gather between 100 and 150 votes on the first ballot and then be dropped from the voting.

But that, in itself, is helpful because the first ballot does not often determine the winner in this type of controlled convention. The second ballot is more meaningful as it really shows where the support lies. Harinder’s loyal followers will be welcome in any of the other camps should he be able to take them with him to support one of the other candidates. We suspect that Harinder already knows he is going to advise his supporters to back Sandra Pupatello.

And there you have it: Windsor’s Sandra Pupatello the early favourite at 5 – 2 odds; Gerard Kennedy the favourite of the party progressives at 4 – 1; Kathleen Wynne MPP, surprisingly in the third place money at 6 – 1; Eric Hoskins MPP, a future threat at 9 – 2; Charles Sousa MPP, badly prepared in the race at 9 – 1; an ill-advised Glen Murray MPP, back in the pack at 15 – 1,  and: Harinder Takhar MPP, bringing up the rear at 20 – 1.

With the convoluted voting procedures and the shaky mathematics involved, we have no idea who will be the elected delegates to the convention in Toronto on January 25 and 26. All we know is that the party executive who agreed to this arrangement should be ashamed of themselves. This is not the way to select a leader for a modern political party.


Copyright 2013 © Peter Lowry

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The Morning Line: Glen Murray at 15 – 1.

Saturday, January 5th, 2013

Before he went to support Gerard Kennedy for Ontario Liberal leader, former MPP George Smitherman could have explained something important to his successor in Toronto Centre, MPP Glen Murray. It is the cause of Toronto having a mayor such as Rob Ford. It is the plain and bitter truth that tells you that the further you move away from Toronto’s intersection of Church and Wellesley, the less tolerance you will find. Glen Murray is a city mouse and he cannot survive north of Highway 7.

Mind you, if he had a decent campaign team, he would not be such a long shot. There seems to be no effort to sell Glen’s activism that has earned him accolades in both Winnipeg and Toronto. He brings a unique skill set to the urban scene and has far more to offer the Liberal party than his campaign geniuses are telling us about.

One thing that the general public is not as aware of in this type of political campaign is that political people look behind the candidate to see who are the team running the campaign and what is their skill set. It is similar to checking on the trainer, jockey and work outs in the Daily Racing Form at the track. Our observations are that this team is tentative, slow to move on opportunities and will not seem to use any newer techniques until after they have been successfully used by opponents.

Glen did the party a service though when he said that this should be the last time the party ever allows a delegated convention that is as controlled as this one. This type of convention makes a mockery of democracy and suppresses party activists who want more say in party policy development. Murray missed the main point though when he failed to mention that the party leader should not be making decisions for local electoral districts. It is the ability of electoral districts to choose their own candidates that is essential to restoring democracy in the party.

While running for the premier’s job might have seemed like a good idea at the time last November, in the light of day of a New Year, Glen might be rethinking his enthusiasm. Regrettably there is really not a graceful way to bow out at this stage. We have already seen how the Toronto Sun reacts to Glen’s candidacy and that is just a small taste of how Conservative leader Tiny Tim Hudak and his friends would react to Glen as Premier.

But that is not going to happen. Glen might gather as many as 200 votes in the first ballot at the January convention but he has no potential for growth in the second ballot and will be forced to drop off the third ballot.


Copyright 2013 © Peter Lowry

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The Morning Line: Charles Sousa at 9 – 1.

Friday, January 4th, 2013

MPP Charles Sousa from Mississauga South strikes you as the kind of guy who watched Premier Dalton McGuinty in Cabinet for the past year and said, “Hell, I can do that!” The problem with it is that he has not had a very good role model. The bar has to be raised.

But give him credit. Charles is a banker and does well at it. He is personable, friendly and interested in people. He is probably more capable than half of his opponents. And that is where he ends up; in the middle of the pack.

But who wants to come fifth in a field of seven? Sure, he is hard on the heels of Eric Hoskins but beating Eric would only raise him to fourth place. He probably sold a lot of memberships in the Portuguese community throughout the GTA but there are few electoral districts where there are large enough numbers of Portuguese-Canadians to elect many delegates to the January Liberal convention.

Looking at the figures in the 2011 provincial election, Sousa hardly seemed to need to block the Mississauga gas turbine generating plant to win his seat. He does not deserve to be hung with that desperation move in the last election.

The Sousa leadership campaign appears poorly organized and seems to lack professionalism. He has been chasing around the province looking for votes but without good advance work, local media coverage, electoral district support or experienced political assistants travelling with him, it is a lot of hard driving for little results.

It is interesting in analyzing Charles’ campaign that his supporters seem to cast him in a more right-wing stance than he himself takes. In a field of predominantly right wing candidates, the party hardly needs another. Yet the party needs people with his business background and all he needs to do is let people see the warmth of his personality that goes with that background.

It was no mistake that Dalton McGuinty gave Charles responsibility for the Pan American Games in 2015 in addition to his other cabinet duties. You need someone with his level of experience to do a good job at something like that. After all, we already have too many lawyers in politics.


Copyright 2013 © Peter Lowry

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The Morning Line: Eric Hoskins at 9 – 2.

Thursday, January 3rd, 2013

An Eric Hoskins with more experience and a clearer direction could have been a threat in this race. Eric is in something like John Turner’s position in the 1968 federal leadership convention. His youthful appearance, despite being over 50, and his light, self deprecating campaign style have earned Eric a sizeable chunk of the Young Liberal vote. That, and his attractive young family, has set him apart from Toronto competitors, Glen Murray and Kathleen Wynne.

Hoskins wife, Dr. Samantha Nutt, has been used effectively in the campaign and has done a robocall that was a real grabber—if you believe in the effectiveness of those annoyances. This is not to deny though that Eric Hoskins’ campaign is the best of a disjointed and disappointing group. It is a campaign with far more style than substance.

Eric’s most serious problem is that he offers no policy options that are not the same old do-nothing, sound-good cant. He comes across as just another dilettante on the right-wing of a party that already has more right-wingers than it needs or wants. He is also constrained by the fact that he has been in the cabinet through the time of the government’s most glaring errors in judgement. With only the last three years in provincial politics, Eric has had little time to learn the political ropes and less time to make a name for himself. His attempt at moving up to the premier’s job is premature.

With Gerard Kennedy coming in at about 400 votes on the first ballot, Eric Hoskins will likely be about 50 votes behind him. While both will improve their votes on the second ballot, Kennedy will have more second vote support and will increase the distance between them. By the third ballot, Hoskins can expect to continue to pick up a few more votes but a fourth ballot will be useless for him.

The nub of the convention for Hoskins might just be that period between the third and fourth ballot. He can settle the issue for the party by trying to take his support over to Sandra Pupatello or he could gamble on his future with Gerard Kennedy as Premier. That would be better for the party but Hoskins will have to make that decision for himself. When John Turner was in that position between Pierre Trudeau and Bob Winters at the end of the 1968 federal Liberal convention, John pulled a disappearing act and refused to make a decision.


Copyright 2013 © Peter Lowry

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