The often rancorous federal election campaign was punctuated by several gaffes by all parties. Several candidates also withdrew as past actions, writings and statements emerged to haunt their political aspirations in the internet age.

The party leaders themselves were not immune from the blunders.

Conservative Leader Stephen Harper drew intense criticism for suggesting Canadians take advantage of "buying opportunities" in the stock market plunge, as well as saying "ordinary Canadians" couldn't relate to artists complaining about a lack of funding while attending "rich galas" subsidized by taxpayers.

Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion, in turn, faced criticism after the botched start of an interview showed him struggling to understand a question on what he would have already done to help Canada's economy if he had been prime minister.

The Conservatives were forced on the defensive early in the campaign after the party's website attacking Dion's leadership abilities depicted a puffin defecating on the Liberal leader. And a Tory staffer was suspended from the campaign for suggesting the comments made by a father of a Canadian soldier killed in Afghanistan were politically motivated.

Another Conservative staff member was forced to resign and apologize for writing a speech read by Harper in 2003, as leader of the Opposition, that plagiarized an address by John Howard, Australia's prime minister at the time. A Liberal campaign researcher discovered the copied passages after doing a Google search.

Candidates in hot water

The Liberals were forced to dump Winnipeg-area candidate Lesley Hughes, a former CBC journalist, for a column she wrote in 2002 as a freelance journalist. She had suggested that Israeli intelligence warned the U.S. in advance of the Sept. 11 attacks and that Israeli businesses vacated the World Trade Center before two passenger planes struck the buildings.

The New Democrats saw four of their candidates resign during the campaign over past controversies. Two had past links with the B.C. Marijuana party, while another withdrew following reports that he took off his clothes in front of a group of teenagers at a retreat 12 years ago.

A Toronto-area NDP candidate also resigned because of postings he made on Facebook attacking an activist who supported U.S. war resisters on the social networking site.

The Conservatives, meanwhile, resisted calls for Calgary MP Lee Richardson to resign for connecting crime with immigrants in an interview with a local weekly newspaper.