Yesterday it was childcare, today Stephen Harper is bullying the opposition parties on its crime legislation. Clearly, Harper has calculated that his priorities are unstoppable and he can operate with relative impunity. We are beginning to detect a certain arrogance with this government, which is not without justification. How can the opposition argue against tax cuts, childcare money and tough action against violent criminals? For Liberals, there is only one realistic issue on the horizon that trumps Harper's full proof plan.
The new Strategic Counsel poll offers the glaring clue to pierce Harper's strategy. When Canadians are asked what issue is most important to them, for the first time I can remember the environment comes in a solid second. This finding reflects the emerging consensus that we must act on the environment in a decisive way. Other polls have shown that the Conservatives score their lowest approval when it comes to the environment. Conclusion, the Liberals must make the environment their centerpiece issue as they emerge from this leadership debate. Harper is obsessed with staying on message to attain a majority, the only realistic option to sideswipe the manipulation is to trump him on environmental issues.
Despite what Harper may claim, he will never be able to champion environmental issues. The ties to big oil and gas, evidenced by the Environment Minister's past stances, negate any real chance for a progressive environmental agenda. If the Liberals are bold, and resist half-measures, they will find an electorate that is increasingly ready to tackle the reality. Even the death star had a weakness.