Increasing Canadian casualties in Afghanistan are among the few shoals upon which the Conservatives could founder as Harper charts a course towards a majority mandate.
When several high-ranking Tories were interviewed last week for a story about the relative safety of their government, all zeroed in on the same potential problem area.
"Afghanistan. Absolutely," one said.
The Conservative game plan is simple: deliver on a handful of campaign promises in time for the next election, then pick up about three-dozen or more seats to capture a majority.
The Conservatives decision not to lower the flag may have a political angle, in that they want to minimize the attention on casualties. I do find it interesting that the Conservatives are most worried about the Afghanistan mission, because initially there was an essential free pass. Afterall, it was the previous government that committed to the mission, so Harper always had that indirect absolution, no matter what happened. However, Harper has made the mission his own, through his aggressive outreach to all things military. Harper's attempt to look the uber patriot may well backfire as he is forced to react to events outside of the control he craves.