The government’s sudden embrace of Keynesian economics — the theory that you can spend your way out of a recession — is pretty much the mirror image of everything Harper has fought for over the past two decades. He complained bitterly about big government, high taxes and profligate spending during his time at the Reform Party, NCC, as leader of the Opposition, and even as prime minister, since he was first elected on Feb. 6, 2006 …
Few of Harper’s friends or supporters believe he honestly thinks the massive stimulus spending outlined in his latest budget will rescue Canada’s slowing economy. The measures, they say, are merely an attempt to stave off a non-confidence vote .. “Stephen Harper didn’t suddenly wake up and become a Keynesian,” says Frank Atkins, an economics professor at the University of Calgary who once taught the prime minister. “This is nothing more than a political budget.”
Returning to the University of Calgary [in the late 1980s] to work on his master’s degree, Harper began reading the works of Austria’s Friedrich Hayek, the influential conservative economist. Hayek vehemently disagreed with the Keynesian notion that government spending could limit economic downturns, and instead warned that intervention in the marketplace would merely prolong suffering and create unintended, and harmful, consequences. Harper’s master’s thesis — entitled The Political Business Cycle and Fiscal Policy in Canada — examined whether political parties manipulated fiscal policy during election years to improve their chances of re-election.
John Gray, “In search of the real Harper“, Canada Business, March 2, 2009.