You don't have to be a cynic, just an experienced observer of Canadian affairs, to appreciate that the vast majority of Canadians won't follow any of the details of the various parties' environmental policies -- unless one of them proposes to impose a tax.
What will therefore count politically when election judgment day arrives are not the specifics of this or that policy, especially since the Conservatives are now borrowing somewhat from previous Liberal ones. Rather, what will count are perceptions about which leader and party seems most committed, sincere and competent to deal with climate change. The political choice, therefore, will not be about policies as much as sincerity and values.
But in politics, the ultimate judgment won't be about policies, but about perception of who really believes what they are saying.
I completely agree, ultimately sincerity and real passion will seperate the politically motivated from the genuine. Despite Harper's "green" blitz, I think he will still have a hard time selling himself as the environmental Prime Minister. Of course Harper says the right things, he will be able to point to pieces of legislation, but what can't change, his natural body language and inflection that reveals indifference. Stephen Harper isn't passionate about global warming, he just isn't. The environment was an afterthought in the Tory platform, as evidenced by his first choice for Minister. Harper can scramble, but he will be hard pressed to convince Canadians that his new found concerns are a product of real conviction.
People can criticize Dion, but there is no disputing his passion when he speaks on the environment. Dion comes alive when he muses on sustainability and the threats to the planet. Layton is quite articulate and emotional, conveys a real tone of urgency when he speaks on environmental issues. May is generally riveting whenever she opens her mouth on global warming. Contrast these politicians with Harper's wooden, analytical rhetoric on the environment and he clearly loses the sincerity test.
This issue will come down to question of political expediency vs natural concern. The last year, and before, demonstrates a clear pattern, wherein Tory concern is directly related to public demand. Harper can roll out programs forever, but in the end, he will still have to "sell" his vision to Canadians. Contrasted with the other leaders, I suspect the next election will reveal Harper as the convenient environmental champion, a by-product of the ballot box, as opposed to real leadership. It's not about the environment, it's about re-election, Harper's lack of sincerity will reveal the fraud.