Canadian politics is a lot like soccer; you can go huge amounts of time where it looks like apparently nothing is happening, when in reality it's been a build up to a flurry of activity. Well, lets be fair here, that's probably not an accurate reflection of soccer players; there's more chance that they've planned what's going to happen in advance.
Around here everything just sort of runs by the seat of the pants with the situation, as the Generals like to say during wartime, fluid. In other words things are happening but we're not quite sure what, why or how. Although when politicians use the word fluid in relation to an issue it usually means that they are waiting to see what public reaction will be before they have an opinion. Heaven forbid they commit to anything and take a leadership role.
Maybe this will help any American football fan understand the Canadian version of the game a little better. It's just like our politics, we are allowed to have far more players in motion than you do on any given down. It may not explain the whole single point for missing a field goal bit, or why our field is damn long and wide, but scrambling seems to be ingrained into our social character.
There's two ways that this tactic can be applied in Canadian politics: there's the 'endlessly clarify the position' ploy, and the 'avoid it and hope it goes away' ploy. Both require that politicians be extremely agile and quick on their feet and are used in controversial and delicate situations.
Most commonly both rules will be applied under similar circumstances; completely misunderstanding the mood of the public or not wanting to deal with anything controversial. Not surprisingly endless clarification usually applies in the former while avoiding it and hoping it goes away applies in the latter condition.
Sometimes there are subtle nuances that are applied to these strategies, especially in the case of endless explaining. If it's an issue that threatens to be controversial, but not one they can see anyway of avoiding, what politicians might do is float their proposals in advance to gauge the reaction, then start the modifications and the explanations until they have something that is either acceptable to the public, or everybody is so confused about where they stand it no longer matters what their opinion is.
This, of course, is where unnamed sources and tame reporters come in handy. If you're a smart politician you always have a couple of reporters you have let cultivate you, so that they think they have a source inside the government. You can use them to plant anything you want in the newspapers through the simple expedient of leaking them the information.