In fairness, this new policy isn't bad - not by a long shot. There are some good, solid morsels of policy in there.
The problem, of course, is that it doesn't matter if the Tories trot out a 5-year plan that would completely reverse the effects of global warming and terra-form the moon, they are in a classic "no-win" scenario.The true geeks among the ES Nation will recognize the reference to that in the title of this post. No matter what policy they unveil, or how sincerely they mean it when they talk about the environment, the Tories will always be painted as "Johnny-Come-Latelies" on the environment portfolios. Nothing they do is going to be good enough for the environmental lobby, Jack Layton is never going to give them kudos for anything, claiming it was all "NDP-inspired" policy, and even Stephane Dion, Canada's least effective Minister of the Environment in years, perhaps EVER, was in that job long enough that people assume he knows what he's talking about.
So, what can the Tories do to gain themselves credibility on the environment? At this point, it doesn't matter if they are true believers or just paying lip-service to the issue, they're not credible to most Canadians on the issue (yet), and many Canadians list the environment as their number 1 concern.
Their first option, and the one they seem to be preparing for, is to swim against the current of malcontent, focus on quality policy, try to get some credible experts on-side, and then (if they don't get thrown into an election in the mean-time) go on the offensive, utilyzing the 1,2 punch of "Here's our shiny new policy or program that this environmental scientist of impeccable credentials loves, and oh, here's what Stephane Dion did about this when he was Environment Minister." This is actually an old Liberal trick, "defining the other guy's policy before he can". It works, and the best thing is that Dion's old policies and programs are all on-the-record, so it's not even that difficult to find them. They need to make sure to milk the disconnect between what Dion SAYS versus what he DID - there's still a slow-simmering public sentiment that Liberals aren't always as truthful as they should be.
The second option, which would certainly be a political coup, would be to form an official parliamentary alliance with the Green party on environmental issues. Photo ops with Elizabeth May, get endorsements from them on your environmental ideas, involve them in the portfolio... the rub, as they say, is that there's very little in this for the Greens. Sure, they get higher visibility, but public perception is a fickle mistress, and your first large-scale market visibility being as a lapdog to the governing policy is hardly good politics when your party's appeal is based at least in small part to the perception as "the underdogs fighting against the establishment". It hardly makes sense to announce you're on-side with the government on the single biggest issue your party has, then go out and try to fund-raise to run candidates against the government in 308 ridings across the country.
So, the best outcome for the Tories, an endorsement from the Greens, is only possible if Ms. May loses her political marbles. Every idea they come up with is going to be roundly criticized as inadequate, regardless of whether or not it actually IS, and their largest competitor, who did a crappy job as Environment minister, has done a masterful job positioning himself as the "voice of the environment", despite his on-the-record inadequacy on the issue.
As the uber-geeks know, only one person ever beat the Kobayashi Maru scenario - and he did it by changing the rules. So the Tories need their own Jim Kirk to think outside the box adn find them a way out of this no-win, and they need him pronto. Otherwise, when the next writ is dropped, they're going to find themselves, deservedly or not, in a BIG heap of trouble on the biggest issue of the day.