According to Joseph C. Ben-Ami, Mulroney was
...more Conservative on abortion:
When the Supreme Court struck down the Trudeau abortion laws in 1988, it invited Parliament to draft new abortion legislation to rectify the deficiencies that led its decision. Not only did the Progressive Conservatives under Brian Mulroney take up the challenge by introducing a government bill in 1989, Mr. Mulroney forced his cabinet to support the bill, allowing a free vote for everyone else in his caucus.
...on Capital Punishment:
Similarly with capital punishment, the Mulroney government facilitated a free vote in the House of Commons in 1987 on a motion to restore the measure – abolished in 1976 – to the Criminal Code. Unlike the abortion bill which passed the House of Commons before stalling in the Senate, the motion to restore capital punishment was voted down. At least it was voted on though.
...on all matters fiscal:
Under Mr. Mulroney, federal program spending climbed from approximately $84.2 billion in 1984-1985 to approximately $122.2 billion in 1992-1993, an average increase of 5 percent per year. Under Mr. Harper, program spending grew from approximately $175.2 billion in 2005-2006, to a projected $206.8 billion in 2008-2009, an average annual increase of 4.5 percent.
When it comes to spending, this seems to confirm that Mr. Harper’s government has been more restrained than Mr. Mulroney’s was, but consider that Mr. Mulroney’s government had to contend with an average annual rate of inflation of 4.1 percent and an average unemployment rate of 9.5 percent during it’s time in office. In contrast to this, the current government has been blessed with average annual rates of inflation and unemployment of 2.4 and 6.1 percent respectively.
The bottom line:
...taking all of the objective facts into account, one is forced to conclude that the federal Progressive Conservative government of Brian Mulroney was, both fiscally and socially, far more conservative than the present Conservative government of Stephen Harper.
Well, not really. In Harper's case, most of the social issues mentioned were already off the table when he came to power, and there is no politically survivable way he could put them back on (the most he can do is tolerate things like M. Vellacott's latest side-show, which of course will go nowhere and accomplish nothing).
On the other hand, Mulroney is the guy who got them off the table in the 1st place.
PS. Ben's article draws this response from Bill Donaldson, formerly president of the Nepean-Carleton riding association--2004-2006--and Pierre Poilievre's very first campaign manager:
Being of libertarian mind I was attracted to the Reform Party and the Alliance because in their screeds were explicit elements of libertarianism and what those entailed for individual rights, freedom, smaller government, rational economics, etc. Even with my eyes shut tightly and my nose held hard, it's clear to me that the CPC is steaming well away from any of those ideas. I'm on the verge of doing other things with my time.
Holy shit, its like they're in perfect disarray!