We have all noticed that the Harper government likes to circumvent democratic procedure when it suits them. What has slowly been dawning on me is when/why they do this.
It's not to support policies they believe in. It's when they screw up on the PR front.
A month after the election last year, Harper thought he could throw his weight around because the opposition couldn't topple him so soon after the vote. He went too far with his economic update, announcing he was cutting off all funding for federal parties and announcing that the government would [fly in the face of every other developed nation and the IMF to] enact no fiscal stimulus. When the opposition balked, he prorogued parliament - an option never used for this political purpose before, and very dodgy.
Recently the opposition has been trying to get to the bottom of the Afghan detainee torture issue. The Liberals have said they want to air any problems that occurred under a Liberal government as well as Conservative, but the Cons decided to take it as a personal assault and fought back in their inimitable no-holds-barred style. Peter Mackay thundered that it was all lies and had never happened. When a top general testified before a parliamentary committee that yes, it had indeed happened, the red-faced government decided to pull all Conservative members from the committee, leaving it without a quorum so it had to shut down.
A more minor occurrence of this pattern happened just yesterday. Harper didn't seem at all embarrassed about showing up at Copenhagen after lobbying furiously against any progress there, but then his spokesman was caught on camera screaming at an environmentalist, accusing him of perpetrating a fraud on Canada. The environmentalist, who throughout the ordeal protested his innocence, turned out to have nothing to do with it. Now Harper is delaying his arrival at the conference.
The flip side of bully is coward. They behave badly; they won't back down; so when they're called on their bullshit their tactic is to shut down democracy till the public has lost interest.