I would categorize Mulcair's visit to the oilsands a complete success. I watched most of Mulcair's presser and came away thoroughly impressed by the tone, this is the pocket he must remain within for his arguments to pierce through the counter fear mongering:
Mr. Mulcair was more statesman than firebrand in his whirlwind tour of Edmonton and Fort McMurray...And herein lies the gist of the issues swirling around. If Mulcair belittles Premier's with reckless rhetoric, raises the temperature, he will get lost in muck and never look Prime Minister in waiting. If Mulcair makes his points, patiently, in measured tones, intellectual concerns articulated reasonably, then he will resonate. I thought Mulcair looked quite firm and confident, while many may disagree with his position, he appears a man with the courage of his convictions, a trait which can serve him well.
People will note, that Mulcair has moved away from the "dutch disease" angle, not shying away, but the emphasis is more environmental sustainability, upholding existing federal laws and polluter pay. Of course, this isn't a change per se, Mulcair has spoke on this topics repeatedly. But, there is more nuance now in how this argument is presented, something that was sorely lacking a couple weeks ago when Mulcair was shooting from the hip like a political amateur. Reasonable people see the reason behind his concerns, juxtaposed with a government who is so one sided in its vision, Mulcair is probably closer to the majority.
I have to hand it to the NDP brain trust, they've handled this controversy quite well. Getting Mulcair out to Alberta in quick fashion, using more diplomatic language and a bit of message reframe have served him well moving forward. The tour isn't about winning over the oil sands lobby, the Conservatives base, it's about looking rational and principled to the moderate middle. In this regard, watching how Mulcair handled this visit, I'd say this tour was an unqualified success.