First, you've got the environment file which Harper totally mismanaged, and continues to mismanage, but seems to think he can un-mis-manage through sheer spin. Get John Baird to say anything often enough, and loudly enough, and the hope seems to be that Canadians will be entranced by the sheer awesomeness that is the Conservative machine. Sadly for them, it doesn't actually seem to be working: Canadians' views on the Conservative policy are based on substance, not appearance.
Secondly, you've got the one issue that I was seriously worried Canadians would actually agglomerate around the Conservatives on -- Afghanistan. Here, too, substantive Canadian unease is not being settled with shouts of "support the troops" or "kill the terrorists!"
And it seems to have made Harper a little nutty. See here, via Scott:
Sources say that Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay feels blindsided by the letter to the editor published Saturday that inflamed matters.Clearly, I'm not a mind reader. But blogging allows a little latitude for baseless speculation, and that kind of trick -- making McKay sign a letter destined to piss off his base -- sounds to me like Harper is trying to smack around the old Tory part of the Conservative Party and make sure they don't try to take on the western base. At the very least, it sounds like Harper was trying to keep McKay from mounting a credible leadership challenge later.
Insiders say that Sandra Buckler, the prime minister's communications director, instructed MacKay to sign the letter, which rejected any side deals with Nova Scotia.
MacKay, a Nova Scotia MP and the senior minister for Atlantic Canada, refused, say sources. Finance Minister Jim Flaherty signed the letter.