Thursday, March 08, 2007

Harper Winning The Environment Battle?

I’ve always thought the environment was the Harper achilles heel. Of all the issues, it seemed the environment was where the opposition could make the strongest counter. If you look at the Liberal leadership, and the focus on the environment, it would seem the party had decided that it would be the key issue as well. Dion rode the green wave and everyone concluded that he would be able to exploit the issue to the Liberals advantage.

Fast forward to the present, it looks more and more that Harper has successfully negated the perceived weakness. A series of announcements, substantial money to the provinces, looming federal action on emission targets, a concerted effort to undermine the Kyoto arguments, all have mixed together to make the denier look the doer. I’m not arguing the fine points, and I’m still not convinced the eventual federal legislation will be adequate, but it does appear that Harper has changed the perception somewhat.

The Conservatives don’t need to drape themselves in green, they only need to create the impression that they are moving on the file in a concrete way. In other words, take the environment off the table as a point of attack. If you look at where we are now, as opposed to the Ambrose reign, it is hard not to think the Conservatives haven’t achieved their goal.

As an added bonus to Conservative fortunes, Dion’s perceived strength looks less and less formidable. It is noteworthy that Dion is actually on the defensive now, as opposed to hammering the “inept” Tories. Fortunes have changed since the convention, the Conservative weakness is no longer glaring and the Dion bloom has definitely come off the rose. A draw is a win every time, on this issue, for Harper. Maybe not mission accomplished, but clearly trending in the right direction for Harper’s perceived achilles heel.


Kim Feraday said...

That's why it's imperative that Mr. Dion articulate his vision clearly. More clearly than he has been doing since the leadership campaign.

If you read Mr. Dion's vision for sustainability (Building a Sustainable Future for Canada) it provides a much more comprehensive vision for Canada than Mr. Harper's dollars for votes initiatives of late. What Mr. Harper is doing is great but it is by no means a plan.

In moving back to talking about sustainability Mr. Dion can also broaden that agenda and (hopefully) show how Mr. Harper's "plan" is deficient. It won't be easy. The one big barrier that Mr. Dion has to overcome is his English.

Jason Bo Green said...

Well, you know already that I'm a diehard environmental supporter and voter who is not convinced Kyoto is an answer. Is Harper "winning"? Hm, I don't know - but he's certainly not losing. This is an occasion I agree with Coyne - voters don't want extremists, they'd rather a party who is forced to act rather than is lustful to act. He used the example of picking the Liberals to slash spending - not the Conservatives. Who would you rather have slash the budget? So who would you rather have deal with the environment?

It's a good comparison, to me it really rang true. And Dion is backing the wrong pony with Kyoto.

But, Dion has LOADS of time to get his footing. The election is not too too imminent, I don't think.

And I understand Dion's english perfectly - what's the big deal with it???

Steve V said...

"Is Harper "winning"? Hm, I don't know - but he's certainly not losing."

That's winning, negation is the goal.

ottlib said...

Mr. Harper has succeeded in putting out the immediate fire that came about as a result of Ms. Ambrose and his disasterous Clean Air Act. However, he has not eliminated it as an issue.

The environment is now part of the Canadian consciousness and it is not going anywhere. It will be an issue in the election and it will probably be a major issue because Mr. Dion will make it so along with his other two pillars.

So, it remains to be seen how Mr. Harper will manage the issue when he no longer has the monopoly of coverage and his environmental policy proposals are placed next to the Liberal policy proposals on a nightly basis.

I stated last week on my own blog that the Conservatives have not deeply established their chops on the environment file amongst the electorate and that will still likely be true by the time of the election. That will be a weakness if the environment becomes one of the central issues of the election.

Dana said...

GW isn't an election issue yet, not really. It's in people's minds and it matters to them, irrespective of their position vis a vis the man made aspects of it all but it's not a government breaker.

It won't really be a government breaker until weird violent weather events start hitting more regions. Or sea level rises start being more noticeable. Until GW starts becoming an undeniable discomfort in peoples lives.

As big banks, insurance firms and even oil companies start accepting that the science is solid and as undeniably valid a theory as gravity the overall mood regarding action will shift among governments but the action itself will not be very meaningful until Jack and Jill Headupass become more directly discomforted or inconvenienced.

lance said...

It may still be an issue, but its a classic race to the bottom type of issue. Steve has it right, the environment is done, except for sniping.


Olaf said...


I hate to say I told you so, but I totally told you so.