It was theirs to win, really.
Dion was seen as ineffective: a bad choice; a weak leader. They pitched Stephen Harper as the charismatic leader: affable; good-natured; caring. It was a good pitch. They knew their stuff. Get away from the right wing stuff about north European socialism. Get that man a sweater.
With the Liberals so weak, the left vote would split and the socialist heart of Canadian would suffer while the Conservatives profited.
But then he went on television and told everyone the economy was fine as Scotiabank announced a recession. He told everyone it's a good time to buy some stock.
Listeria never really mattered. There was no sign that anyone cared about 20 people who died because of Conservative deregulation. Even uninfected lunch meat kills more people with all its salt and fat anyway, right?
But then he really blew it. The Conservative "war room" thought it would be a good idea to make fun of Stephane Dion for a grammatical problem in English. While some blame CTV for airing the clip to discredit the Liberals, it almost looks like they aired it to stoke francophone sentiment. The Conservatives almost dropped off the radar in Quebec.
They blew it.
They had their majority, easily within their grasp, and they blew it. Instead of pushing to the end, they hid half their candidates away from the cameras and local debates lest some gaffe befall them. They did not dare, and so they did not win. They did not dare and so they did not deserve to win.
The worst is yet to come because now they have to suffer through the financial mess that's headed our way. If they want to maintain any popularity, they'll have to drop the free-market nonsense they parrot and work to support companies that - according to that same capitalist mantra - ought to go under.
Good luck, boys. You'll need it. You've bought the worst of both worlds: a recession and a non-majority with which to fight it.