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.