Andrew Coyne pinpoints the day that Stephen Harper started governing as if he actually had a majority:
Calendar years have no particular significance in the political or electoral cycle — except when they do. Though the Conservatives won the majority they had been three times denied in May of 2011, they did not begin to govern as a majority until this year.
Indeed, the date can be fixed with precision. It was Jan. 26, a Thursday. Until that time the government had been preoccupied with leftover items from the minority years: the crime bills, the Wheat Board, the gun registry, and so on. On that day, Stephen Harper gave a speech in which he at last began to sketch out the broader agenda he had been at such pains to disavow until then.
This, it might be said, was the real Speech from the Throne (the one from the previous June being remembered mostly for a piece of performance art by an impossibly self-involved page), the occasion for the government to lay out before Canadians and their representatives “the unfinished business of the nation.” And so, naturally, it took place thousands of miles away, in Davos, Switzerland.
[. . .]
Last, there are the omnibus budget bills, I and II: the point at which the government’s emerging policy ambitions and continuing contempt for Parliamentary democracy converge. I’ve said my fill about these earlier, so I’ll be brief here. When much of the government’s legislative agenda can be pushed through in a single bill, or two; when “debate” on these hydra-headed monstrosities is itself cut short by government fiat; when these arrive on top of the whole long train of abuses to which Parliament has already been subjected, starting under past governments but with conspicuous enthusiasm under the present – then the question for next year, and for years to come, is clear. It is whether we will still live under a Parliamentary system of government, or something else.