But now, he told viewers, a coalition of opposition parties is trying to oust him through a backroom deal "without your say, without your consent and without your vote."
Just how valid is Harper's claim that changing governments without a new election would be undemocratic?
"It's politics, it's pure rhetoric," said Ned Franks, a retired Queen's University expert on parliamentary affairs. "Everything that's been happening is both legal and constitutional."
Other scholars are virtually unanimous in their agreement. They say Harper's populist theory of democracy is more suited to a U.S.-style presidential system, in which voters cast ballots directly for a national leader, than it is to Canadian parliamentary democracy.
"He's appealing to people who learned their civics from American television," said Henry Jacek, a political scientist at McMaster University.
In Canada, there's no national vote for prime minister. People elect MPs in 308 ridings, and a government holds power only as long as it has the support of a majority of those MPs.
"We have a rule that the licence to govern is having the confidence of the House of Commons," said Peter Russell, a former University of Toronto professor and adviser to past governors general.
"I'm sorry, that's the rule. If they want to change it to having a public opinion poll, we'd have to reform and rewrite our Constitution."
Such cuts, he added, would be consistent with Harper's long-term goal of reducing the size and scope of government.
"I think that's always been sort of the long-term plan, the way that Stephen was going about it of first depriving the government of surpluses through cutting taxes . . . You get rid of the surpluses and then it makes it easier to make some expenditure reductions."
At a minimum, Flanagan said: "I think there's certainly room for some incremental cuts to useless programs."
The government has already used the economic crisis to put off plans for a national portrait gallery, citing the need for fiscal restraint in uncertain times.
From Flanagan's perspective, the government would do well to scupper a host of grants, contracts and business subsidies and to pare a lot of what he considers wasteful spending on cultural and aboriginal programs.
So wrote Tom Flanagan, one of the deep thinkers of the conservative movement in Canada and a mentor to Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Flanagan's prescient op-ed piece from August appeared to come to fruition in Thursday's fiscal update when Harper's Conservatives moved to end public financing of federal political parties under the guise of austerity. "There will be no free ride for political parties," Flaherty told the House of Commons in his speech on the update. "Even during the best of economic times, parties should count primarily on the financial support of their own members and their own donors."