But there was also a lot of reflection by Canadians, who wondered whether the past five years were as rosy as the neocons would like us to believe.
Much of the criticism came from the centre and left, but there was also a few murmurs from the right, especially the more moderate conservatives.
Andrew Coyne called the Harper style: A know-nothing strain of conservatism.
He starts out in his column wondering why half of the country believe that we are heading in the right direction, yet Harper is barely able to hold onto a third support in the polls.
The answer to that is quite simple. With a media blackout, the Canadians who believe we are headed in the right direction, have no idea what is going on behind the scenes. Ontarians, like myself, have some idea, because when Jim Flaherty looked after finances for Premier Mike Harris, he had everything hidden under his desk. When he left office and the books were opened, it was a nightmare.
Our "balanced budget" turned out to be six billion dollars in the red.
But another factor to consider, is that while half of Canadians believe we're on the right track, many don't attribute our success to Stephen Harper and his government, but measures put in place before his arrival, that have kept us out of trouble. Again, if those same people realized how many of those safety measures the Harper government has torn down, they might feel differently.
But Harper's low polling numbers are a direct result of his actions. As Coyne points out, "Clearly, it’s the way they govern, rather than the results—their tail-gunner style of politics, notably—that is the issue."
And he lists several undemocratic actions.
The census debacle "... what on Earth the Conservatives could have been thinking. Playing to the base?" That's a Karl Rove tactic, who constantly told Bush when he had doubts, to always "play to the base". When Guy Giorno, Canada's answer to Karl Rove, was Harper's chief of staff, he told Harper to "play to the base" by leaving safe abortions out of maternal health.
And their anti-intellectualism that has to exclude expert opinions - again George Bush.
I think my colleague John Geddes came closest in his piece last week. It isn’t just that the Tories habitually ignore the expert consensus on a wide range of issues—crime, taxes, climate change—it’s that they want to be seen to be ignoring it. It’s the overt antagonism to experts, and by extension the educated classes, that marks the Tory style. In its own way, it’s a form of class war.And the sneering references to Michael Ignatieff because he not only taught at Harvard but earned his PhD there. No different from Mike Harris who referred to Rhodes Scholar Bob Rae as "the Professor" with just enough spittle on his chin. If your qualifications don't equal your opponent's, then tear down your opponent's qualifications in as ignorant a fashion as possible ... playing to the base. That 30% that won't desert you, and believe that anyone educated at Harvard must be the devil. Harvard educated Obama is getting the same nonsense from the Tea Party. And as Coyne reminds us:
The intellectuals that conservatives generally rail against are those they disagree with. But the Harper Conservatives are just as hostile to the interventions of experts on what one might suppose to be their own side. The decision to cut the GST, rather than income taxes, was made in defiance not of radical economists, but of the orthodox free-market variety.Again, the anti-intellectualism is George Bush and the Republican strategists he surrounded himself with, including Frank Luntz, the man who has played a huge role in the Canadian Reform movement.
... The result is a uniquely nasty, know-nothing strain of conservatism. The Thatcher Tories, unlike their forebears, weren’t anti-intellectual: her cabinet contained some of Britain’s most fertile social and political minds. Ronald Reagan, though hardly an intellectual, did not demonize expert opinion, or pit the educated classes against the rest.
But that kind of politics failed to resonate with Canadians. All the cunning and personal attacks have wore us down. "After so many miscues, unforced errors, too-clever tricks and utter botch-ups, does anyone still cling to the “strategic genius” view of Stephen Harper?"
He's just annoying now. Add that to his economic myths, and I think we have enough to vote him out of office. Hallelujah!