Tough days ahead for environment minister Peter Kent

I note another spate of columns today, detailing the master stroke that is last week’s cabinet shuffle. Never has relative nothingness been given such prominence, but that’s another discussion. A quick update on the impressive Conservative strategy, Minister Kent is flourishing in his new role, making friends, raising the temperature and risking elevating a dormant issue which never works for the government. But anyways, I’m sure I just can’t see the forest from the robust trees here:

"I’ve worked with many provincial and federal environment ministers and I’ve never seen a more horrifying first day on the job than Minister Kent,” said Rick Smith, executive director of Environmental Defence Canada. “Right from hour one on the job, apparently he has thrown in the towel on cleaning up the most polluting industry in the country. I just think on a very, very basic level he has miscalculated here. I opened my morning paper and I almost spit my coffee across the room when I was reading what he was saying on his first day on the job.”

…Meanwhile, this could be a liability for the Conservative Party, Ekos pollster Frank Graves told The Hill Times.

“The Conservative party suffers a net liability on environmental issues,” he said. “It has probably been the most obvious barrier between them and a majority.”

Mr. Graves added “it’s a possibility” that the furor over Kent’s statements could draw voter attention back to the environment

Let’s look at the master plan again, and ponder where the Conservatives need to win seats. Now if someone can POSSIBLY explain how a vigorous, blank cheque defence of the Alberta oil sands will swing votes in the GTA and surrounding area, I’m ALL ears. Factor in how well this will posture will play in Quebec, the Lower Mainland, and this gambit really starts to come into full blur.

The environment is off the radar, and no Conservative strategist would suggest that is a bad thing. Kent’s comments do risk giving the issue more prominence, which presents an unnecessary handicap, particularly in regions where sentiment isn’t exactly on board with the characterization. Kent’s position is so absolute, it puts the government outside of the mainstream view.

The environment is an embarrassing portfolio, as Graves notes, it’s a clear "liability". The question becomes, will it take votes away from the government, which is unclear, I’d lean towards no for the most part. However, when you are using Kent as a backdrop to "expanding" support, the disposition is nonsensical. It might not cost you many votes you already have, but it sure as shit ain’t attracting people either, particularly in the regions so dissected as "pickups". 

Again, don’t ask pundits, Liberals, observers, go ask Conservative strategists. If one of the them tells you the Environment, this portfolio is truly a road to the GTA, please fill me in to the logic. I’m searching for Bobby Fischer here, but I can’t find him… Looks like a gift to date, not a threat.

blunder- A usually serious mistake typically caused by ignorance or confusion; a terrible move, usually one that loses material or causes the loss of the game.

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