...and why would that be, Mr. Harper?
If you have to ask your supporters, caucus or whomever to put aside ideology in tough times, that should indicate a problem. Either the ideology is 'too scary' and not likely going to be acceptable to the general public. Or the ideology doesn't work. In this case it's one of those 'a little from column A and a little from column B' scenarios.
The problem with column A is that the right-wing ideology isn't acceptable to the majority of Canadians. There's a reason why Harper still can't win a majority despite the Liberals pushing a good plan at the wrong time and having one of their weakest showings ever. Voters would rather not vote at all than vote for Harper. And with Harper's only focus being the elusive majority, he needs a more pragmatic, faux-centrist appearance to get it. Unfortunately, these people looking for the hard, right turn have been waiting very patiently to get their way. They handed the reigns to Harper to lead them to the promised land where they could ravage social and economic policies, but he has yet to deliver. That doesn't mean the faithful are willing to wait any longer.
The problem with column B is that it is partially the fault of the right-wing ideology that the world is in the economic crisis in the first place. However, there are still those - many that support the Conservatives - that still cling to the pure free market, libertarian (neo- or not), Chicago-school or Calgary-school ideologies that pose a risk to stability. Harper is one of them. Leading up to, during and even shortly afterward, Harper still clung to those right-wing views. Not until other nations realized they had no choice but to switch gears did Harper follow suit and now is singing a different tune. How could he, while every other right-wing government around the globe had to concede defeat still push the agenda? He couldn't. To do so would have seen him look like the strange loner as there is also the pressure of image weighing on him. The last thing he doesn't want to be seen as is the Prime Minister that oversaw the loss of millions of jobs and entire industries by sticking to his guns while everyone else attempted to save them.
Therein lays the real Harper. Out of both columns A and B, the common denominator is image or electability. Since he is in a minority situation, Harper is all about looking good in hopes he can one day capture his desired majority. He preaches pragmatism for no other reason than to make himself more appealing. This isn't a man with real concerns about the situation or the average Canadian. This is about a man with a vision of a more conservative Canada that has greater appeal to him and those around him. This is ultimately about creating his vision of Canada, not accepting Canada as it is. To do get there he needs to win more seats, he needs more power. And so, he puts on his centrist mask, begs for more time from his core and preaches about pragmatism over ideology - for now.