As recession closes in on the country, Stephen Harper is sprinting for a majority. By next spring, most Canadians who live outside the oil kingdom that is the Harper heartland will have had enough of an economic strategy that favours Big Oil and lets the manufacturing sector and the sectors that rely on it crumble.

Speaking outside Rideau Hall, Stephen Harper shrugged off the idea that he was running to win a majority. But the Big Bad Wolf about to swallow Little Red Riding Hood kept flashing into view despite all his best efforts. Harper’s strategy: go for a majority while never claiming that’s what he’s doing. His tactic: let the other four leaders tangle each other up so that with about 37 per cent of the vote, he can squeak to the narrowest of majorities.

Stephane Dion, surpassing low expectations, seemed serene if a little diffident and unapproachable. How he will play in Quebec where few people like him and in the rest of the country where few people know him remains to be seen. As is customary for a Liberal leader Dion made his appeal to progressives. His pitch throughout will be to try to pull social democrats and greens to his banner.

Gilles Duceppe opened strongly. This guy, who is usually ignored in English Canada, is one of the country’s most seasoned politicians. He warned Quebeckers that the Bloc is the only party that can stop the Conservatives from winning a majority across Canada. Good ploy.

Jack Layton spoke forcefully on behalf of those (the majority) who are being left behind. It’s smart for him to portray himself as running for the job of prime minister, and smarter for him to ignore the Liberals. Why didn’t he call for the troops to be brought home from Afghanistan?

Elizabeth May had passion and was the most human of the leaders. Her warning that people need to regain control of their politics will resonate, especially with the young.

Final note: is the CBC going to go with right of centre analysts from now to election day?