Stephen Harper had the 2011 election won before the writ was dropped. All he had to do to win the most seats was not lose popularity during the campaign.

Harper won the May 2 election through months of expenditures of public money prior to the election making fraudulent claims about a Canadian Economic Recovery, though it was clear to keen observers that the economy still needed to recover.

He won more seats than any other party through extensive party ads over the years between elections attacking the credibility of the Liberal leader and by extension the Liberal party and its candidates. The Liberal leader lost his seat to a Harper candidate, and the Liberals lost enough seats in the GTA to give the Conservatives a majority.

The Harper campaign talked incessantly about hard working Canadian families. It was as if they were looking to take the side of the working class in the struggle against the capitalists, when in fact the opposite was true. The Conservatives have worked for years to build tight relationships with the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, the Canadian Taxpayers Association, and the National Citizens Coalition. These Conservative business allies were key to influencing voters into believing the Harper government had the answers on the economy, and the other parties did not, though there was no solid evidence for this view.

The Conservative approach is to target potential supporters, and then woo them with policies and promises. Right under the nose of the Liberals, the Conservatives set out to win supporters within traditional Liberal leaning ethnic minority communities.

As far back as 1984, following the massive Mulroney majority, the Progressive Conservatives looked to build the Canadian economy by establishing a new category of newcomer to Canada: investor immigrants, ready to put serious money into domestic businesses. Twenty years later, after the Progressive Conservatives and Reform/Alliance party banded together as the Conservative Party of Canada, Stephen Harper took his message that tax cuts were good economic policy into immigrant communities considered to be solid Liberal, but where small business was a way of life.

Harper counted on the Liberal opposition to corporate tax cuts to brand Michael Ignatieff as anti-business. The strategy succeeded in wresting key Toronto area ridings from Liberal hands.

Just as the Conservatives had built up a big lead, the Liberals started behind, and lost ground during the campaign. As columnist Murray Dobbin showed in his biography of Paul Martin, at the riding level, the Liberal Party was torn apart by the Martin takeover of virtually every constituency. The move, aimed to push Jean Chrétien from power, and leave Martin alone to claim the Liberal leadership, worked. But Martin never got around to rebuilding the party, before he failed as prime minister, and left office.

The Liberal party inherited by Stéphane Dion, no party animal, was too weak to walk across the street, let alone run a permanent election campaign. Ignatieff could not turn things around.

Stephen Harper looks to improve his permanent election advantage by abolishing the $2 per-vote subsidy parties receive, based on past election results. This would leave the political tax credit, a generous tax back given to party donors, as the main source of party finance, along with the repayment of a portion of election expenses. Only the Reform Party and its successor, the Conservatives have succeeded in using the tax credit to recruit donors on a large scale.

Both the per-vote allocation, and the tax credit are subsidies using public money. The per-vote rewards parties according to voter popularity, the tax credit rewards parties for the money they take in from donors. The Conservatives plan to use the tax credit to maintain party strength, and count on the withdrawal of the per-vote grant to weaken the opposition. Stephen Harper wants a big financial advantage as the current stage of the permanent election campaign begins, well before the next election is due in four year time.

Duncan Cameron is the president of