I think there is a conscious understanding in Harper's inner circle that this will probably be his last chance to become Prime Minister. He has nothing loose, and the deadline of the next election may be coming soon. I shouldn't have been surprised at the amount of guts he's been showing lately, but I think that realization that his time is running out of time is taking hold. Harper's not going to take things sitting back this time.
This is Harper's way of saying "the gloves are off."
The next election is going to be interesting.