For five days Harper refused to give the Elections Canada Director Marc Mayrand the full powers his agency needs to conduct a proper investigation into the scandal of misleading calls in the last election.
Mayrand wants the same powers former Auditor-General Sheila Fraser had when she exposed the Liberal sponsorship scam.
All other parties in parliament had already said yes to more powers for Mayrand. They want Parliament to get to the bottom of the scam.
Harper alone was recalcitrant. People began to wonder why. Did Harper have something to hide, or was it that he wants complete power over everything?
So finally Harper announced that he was "not opposed" to an NDP proposal to give Elections Canada the power to require all lists of phone numbers, names and addresses of service companies to automated calls, all accounts with these companies, and even all political messages that the Conservative Party had used. And all the other parties too.
No more secrets. What could be better?
Harper never said as such he would support the proposal.
He just said he was "not opposed" to the NDP proposal. Harper is like that. He always gives himself a way out. It was like that with his law on fixed election dates, and like that with international agreements on the environment.
Harper always thinks: "Why back myself into a corner?"
So maybe it wasn’t the refreshing about-face on the electoral scandal, but call it at least a first sign of electoral transparency. Better than nothing.
But there's a catch.
Harper may still back out after the vote by saying the NDP proposal only applies to future elections and not those of May 2.
So Elections Canada doesn’t get to delve into Conservative Party accounts and automated call lists of the last election.
Or Harper could interpret the proposal to mean that it only applies to the two or three constituencies where Elections Canada has launched a formal investigation and not to all 57 constituencies where there were 31,000 complaints of election irregularities.
Before we congratulate Harper too quickly, we should wait and see how he tries to twist the results to his benefit.