It's about the election he wants.
The Tories were the ones who brought in the idea of fixed federal election dates. They charged that previous governments had manipulated election dates in order to secure themselves the best outcomes. With the election spending scam going through the Ethics Committee, the Tories want to have an election now. They've stalled, stonewalled and filibustered as much as they can and they need to have an election before the amount of cheating they did sees the light of day.
They don't want to force one themselves, as they would appear to be the hypocrites that they actually are. Harper tried to declare that Parliament is "dysfunctional" but this isn't gaining traction. The only dysfunctional parts are the committees being disfigured by the Tories themselves.
They can't seem to get the Liberals to call an election. The Liberals would rather wait for the Conservative scandal to hit the papers and disgust the people. It's a lot like the sponsorship scandal ... except that the Liberals were open to having an inquiry and the Tories aren't.
So Harper has to do something to motivate the Liberals to call an election.
And the solution is to trash arts funding.
It's so easy and it accomplishes two things at once. First of all, it puts pressure on the Liberals to call an election lest they lose their own supporters who expect them to defend these various arts programs. Second, it plays well to the conservative base - those social conservatives who assume that any government money going toward the "arts" is just being spent on something gay or anti-Jesus (a drawing of a gay Jesus being their worst nightmare).
Yes, indeed. A nice trick to play. I wonder if it will work.