Stephen Harper said it, and his campaign organizers tried very hard to reinforce the idea this election was not about him.
In the end it was.
For many reasons, Canadians wanted change at the top. On Monday night, they got it.
When the Conservative Party of Canada shot to prominence, finally gaining a majority in 2011, they did so promising change after years of scandal under the Chretien Liberal regime. Harper promised Canadians not only that he would clean up Ottawa, but provide transparency and accountability.
We got anything but and voters have expressed their anger at being so egregiously betrayed. There’s Mike Duffy, the unprecedented concentration of power in the Prime Minister’s Office, Canada’s hard-earned international reputation is in tatters and despite many promises there has been no shift in deficit spending.
Harper himself, everyone agrees, is a skilled politician — perhaps too skilled.
His political savvy, whether correct or not, has been interpreted by Canadians as seeking more power over the good of Canada and what is best for Canadians.
The armour in which he and the CPC clad itself ended up being its fatal flaw. Their ideology became cumbersome and politics out of touch — some might say arrogant.
No matter how much Harper insisted it was not about him and CPC strategists tried to deflect voters away from the perception that he has a controlling and inflexive nature, Canadians were not convinced. There will now be serious soul searching in the Conservative Party.
New Prime Minister-designate Justin Trudeau with his passionate defence of his father, his sticking up for journalism and overall sense of approachability — offered a perception of warmth that was absent from the other leaders.
How those qualities translate into on-the-job performance remain to be seen. But Canadians spoke loudly in the best way possible — with their votes.