I did not watch the French language debates. Here is what I expect to have happened.
Jack Layton was his oily used car salesman self and played with his moustache a lot after saying, ‘Bad Harper, bad Bush, or US style/American’ whatevers. Elizabeth May played the petulant child being seated at the grown-up table and the only representative of a one issue candidate.
Stephane Dion looked lost and not ready for prime time. Canadians everywhere, who watched the debates and wished Duceppe was running a Canadian Bloc rather than a Quebec Bloc - so they could vote for him. Stephen Harper looked like a prime minister but used that awkward and vaguely disturbing Cheshire cat grin a lot.
Maybe I am wrong, maybe Americans, US style, Bush, Neocon never came up once but I doubt it. The overall winner - Harper, and not because I particularly like Harper, but let us face facts, the opposition is so not ready for prime time and for Harper to lose - requires the other potentials being able to manage to upstage him. The only candidate with the potential to unhinge Harper’s mantle is strictly a regional one – a one note Charlie who will not resonate with the rest of the country. Harper wins by default.
One final note, I have watched the support for the NDP grow in this election but I do not believe it necessarily signals any lasting or significant change in the NDP fortunes in this country. A strong liberal leader leading with a practical vision which can be named and branded without infringing on a copyrighted name will effectively bled off the current levels of NDP support.