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Politics Irish bookie has Harper’s Conservatives the clear election favourite

Conservative Leader Stephen Harper, during a campaign event at a factory in Stittsville, Ont., on September 13, 2015.

CHRIS WATTIE

Pundits and pollsters may see the Canadian election as a three-way race, but early betting lines from Irish bookmaker Paddy Power PLC have Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper as the clear favourite.

The Dublin-based bookmaker was offering 8/13 odds late Wednesday that Harper's party would win the most seats in the Oct. 19 vote, meaning a €13 ($19) bet would pay out €8 in addition to the original stake. Odds on Justin Trudeau's Liberal Party were 6/5, with Tom Mulcair's New Democrats at 12/1. The lines imply the probability of a Harper victory is about 62 per cent, versus 45 per cent for a Trudeau triumph.

Predictions from Canada's pollsters are less clear. Ottawa-based Nanos Research sees the Liberals capturing the highest proportion of the vote, or 35 per cent, compared with 31.5 per cent for the Conservatives. Aggregator ThreeHundredEight.com has the Conservatives slightly ahead of the Liberals – 32.9 per cent to 32.3 per cent – but still within the margin of error.

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A Mulcair win is a long-shot by both measures: The Paddy Power odds imply an 8-per-cent shot, and Nanos has him well back in support at 23 per cent.

The election odds are based on the opinion of political experts at the gambling company, trends in news and polling and the flow of bets being placed, Paddy Power spokesman Feilim Mac An Iomaire said by phone Tuesday. About 90 per cent of bets on elections come in the final few weeks, and U.K. and Ireland wagers on Canada's contest may reach £100,000, he said.

Due to gambling regulations, Paddy Power can't take bets from customers based in Canada. Although, Mac An Iomaire says, "there are certainly a lot of Canadian expatriates in the U.K. and Ireland having a bite at the cherry."

With reports from Josh Wingrove and Erik Hertzberg in Ottawa

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