To his critics on the left, Stephen Harper is a right wing ideologue. To his critics on the right, he is a Liberal in disguise. Scott Stinson, in The National Post, claims that Harper has succeeded by selling out his conservative principles:
The Tory government has spent at record levels — a 40% rise in program spending over five years. It has vowed to continue escalating transfers to the provinces for health care funding in seeming perpetuity while swearing allegiance to the Canada Health Act. It has interfered in international business deals (quashing the Potash takeover, for example), and domestically expanded a system that funnels billions of taxpayer dollars into private enterprise through development agencies. It has defended the supply-management practices that inflate consumer prices for goods such as milk and eggs. On thornier issues such as abortion and same-sex marriage, Mr. Harper has resolutely avoided taking a social conservative stance, even though there is a wing of his party that would dearly like to see him do so.
Many conservatives have leavened their disappointment with Harper's less than conservative agenda, taking solace in the thought that he will move incrementally to transform Canada. By the time he's finished, they claim, Liberals won't recognize the place.
That's a controversial argument -- and it's a distraction. What is really important is what drives Stephen Harper. He is neither a conservative nor a liberal. His political philosophy is simple: do whatever it takes. Whether it's the attack ads, the intervention in the potash deal, or his foreign policy, it's about -- it's always been about -- putting Stephen Harper in the Prime Minister's Office.
That fact should give Canadians pause.