It is no secret that the Conservatives' green-wash attempts has resulted in almost no production of support for the party. The Conservatives know they are fighting an uphill battle when it comes to the environment and many other social priorities of Canadians. While things could be worse for the Conservatives, they are definitely not in the position they want to be in. Odds are that if political conversation stays focused on the environment and other social concerns (education, women's issues, child-care, etc.) of Canadians, things will won't really ever improve for the Conservatives. Let's face it, if the Conservatives have to fight battles on those fronts during an election campaign they probably won't fair very well. As such, there are some indications we may be heading for a federal election this spring.
So what are the Conservatives going to do if an election does take place? Well, I would argue that they are already in election mode. The anti-Dion ads, the rehashing of the (false) accusations against Goodale and pushing alleged terrorist connections between Navdeep Bains' family. The whole point of these character attacks are to create negative impressions in the minds of Canadians well before the public starts to truly pay attention to politics. It is also about trying to distract the House and media from the issues which the Conservatives are failing on. If the public and media aren't talking about the environment and the House is focused on bickering, then the stage is being setup to be changed. Essentially, the Conservatives are hoping to open up space in the minds of people for what the Conservatives really want to talk about: taxes.
It seems to be the worst kept secret at this point, that the Conservatives are getting set to release a budget full of tax goodies. So many tax goodies that the opposition parties have all pondered, to some degree, that they will vote against the budget over the number of supposed tax goodies that might be offered. And unfortunately for the opposition, that is exactly what the Conservatives want. They want to go into an election talking about taxes. Screw the environment, screw child-care, health-care, or any other important issue, the Conservatives want people focused on the tax-breaks and returns they would may or may not have gotten if the opposition didn't vote them away. Taxes are the only issue which the Conservatives have a real fighting chance on and they know that.
From the tax-angle, the Conservatives have many options. They can claim the opposition wants to raise taxes, or roll-back the cuts that would have been in the budget, or accuse the opposition of looking to waste tax-dollars on 'needless' programs. They will have a large, divisive issue which to attack the opposition on and keep them on the defensive instead of attacking the Conservatives themselves. This is the ultimate point of the Conservatives' plan. The first thing was to implant negative impressions and disrupt the focus of the public, the House and media. By doing that they hope to create a void that will last long enough so the Conservatives can fill it with talk about taxes and other Conservative priorities that will mostly be about appealing to the general public's short-sightedness (and I don't mean that to be disparaging). At that point, the budget will be dropped and most likely, an election will be called shortly after and with luck (from their perspective) it will be an election that is on the Conservatives' terms.