Anyone who thinks that Harper and his bullies were unaware of the efforts by the Department of Justice lawyers to try to delegitimize same sex marriage is a fool. Obviously the Prime Minster knew. It is extremely unusual for the Federal Government to get involved in a divorce case and this case had to have been prepared a while ago at the highest level of policy makers. There is absolutely NO WAY that the PM wouldn't have known about this. On the contrary, the order to pursue this surely came directly from his office.
And this is the Harpercon's basic political strategy, poke around the edges of a major issue before jumping in. This is how it has been with the death penalty. The Conservative caucus overwhelmingly favours the return to the death penalty because all they really understand is the politics of hate, and revenge is an intimate associate of hate. However, knowing that they can't simply attempt to reinstate the death penalty without huge political consequences, they have instead begun the gradual chip-away. They stopped trying to save people who might be extradited to other countries and face capital punishment, and they are not attempting to save Canadians abroad who might be facing this most tyrannical act. Obviously in the long term their hope is to bring the death penalty to canada for any crime except those regularly committed by rich white men (that is to say corruption and money crimes). They don't care that the death penalty has no effect on crime, as their recent crime bill demonstrates, prevention of crime or rehabilitation are not on their radar - only punishment - swift, hard, preferably violent, punishment. Again, this is the CPC agenda of hate.
Here we once again have another attempt by the Harpercons to chip away at something they hate - equality for gay people. They know that they cannot attack gay marriage directly so they instructed their lawyers to pick away at the basic legitimacy of gay marriage in an area where they didn't think people would take much notice. Test the waters for potential dangers, attempt to gradually shift people's minds toward a world in which gay marriage is not legitimate. So in an unprecedented effort they chose to attack marriages which the state would not normally question - marriages of people who reside elsewhere. It is a test for blow-back. The Canadian government has never brought into question the issue of how foreign governments have viewed a marriage. If your marriage is recognized here that has all that has historically mattered. As one commentator pointed out, marriages between Jews and Muslims are illegal in Saudi Arabia (one of Canada's great allies). But imagine the uproar if Justice Department lawyers had argued that a Jewish-Muslim couple that had been married in Canada could not be divorced because they were never actually married!! We don't, of course, have to imagine because the government would never allow this to happen. This point demonstrates very clearly that this has been a very clear and conscious effort by the government to delegitimize gay marriage.
Make no mistake, the Harpercons are engaged in a concerted effort to rightwing, born-again Christian, intolerance of the US deep-south right here to Canada. And keep in mind they are doing it with the support of about one quarter of the adult population. Now that's democracy!