December 8, 2018 11:00 am

COMMENTARY: Conspiracy theories not needed in explaining Liberal ineptness

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau responds during question period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Wednesday, Dec.5, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press
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As Canadians struggle to make sense of some of the policy choices – or lack thereof – on the part of the Trudeau Liberals, there seems to be an emerging trend of reaching for some more outlandish explanations.

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In analyzing this question, we can take some guidance from the principle of Occam’s Razor, which is, essentially, that the simplest explanation is typically the most probable. Or, perhaps the aphorism known as Hanlon’s Razor is more apt in these specific circumstances: “Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity.”

In other words, the government’s struggle to deal with two key issues – the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion and the thousands of asylum-seekers walking across the U.S. border into Canada – is most easily explained by a considerable degree of ineptitude on their part.

READ MORE: Large rally in central Alberta town calls for immediate construction of new pipelines

To others, however, the explanation is much darker. The lack of progress on pipelines is instead the result of an elaborate scheme to decimate the oil and gas industry and kneecap the Alberta economy. This apparently stems from either a deep animosity for the industry, or the region, or both.

The lack of progress on stemming the tide of asylum-seekers and the inability to effectively manage the problem is instead the result of a deliberate and fiendish plot to erase our borders and surrender our sovereignty. Canada’s participation in the UN Compact on Migration is seen as further evidence of this, even though the agreement is non-binding and frankly, rather mundane.

Strange and intricate conspiracy theories abound online, but these ones are becoming increasingly mainstream – even by the federal Conservatives. This is not helpful to our political discourse. These days, it seems, it’s not enough to say your political opponents are wrong; they must also somehow be evil.

Absent an ability to read the prime minister’s mind, I cannot conclusively rule out the possibility of such sinister agendas. If there is indeed malevolent intent on Trudeau’s part, his fiendish schemes are being implemented in the clumsiest way possible.

READ MORE: New pipelines are the answer to oil price problems: Natural Resources minister

Take the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project, for example. Obviously, the inability to advance the project has created considerable uncertainty and we’re currently seeing the economic consequences of a lack of pipeline capacity.

If Trudeau was determined to scuttle it, he could have simply said “no” to the project. Or, when Kinder Morgan walked away from the project, Trudeau could have let it die then. In approving the pipeline and then purchasing the project outright, Trudeau has further antagonized its opponents. Conversely, pipeline proponents have lost all patience with the prime minister. If this is a deliberate political strategy, it’s hard to imagine a more poorly conceived one.

If political considerations are a mere afterthought to an ideological determination to block all such projects, then it’s a mystery as to why Trudeau has forsaken to many obvious opportunities to accomplish that goal. Again, I defer to Hanlon’s Razor.

The Trudeau government often gets itself into trouble through a combination of trying to be all things to all people and trying to act as though everything is fine. They thought they could get Trans Mountain built and pipeline proponents would be happy. They thought they’d bring in Bill C-69 and the federal climate plan and environmentalists would be happy. That approach is in shambles.

READ MORE: NEB to hear traditional Indigenous evidence in Trans Mountain pipeline review

The failure to act on the oil price crisis is not likely out of spite for Alberta, but rather a reluctance to convey the impression that all is not well. The same goes for the problem at the border: the Liberals aren’t sure how to respond to the situation and would prefer not to call attention to their predicament — or how the prime minister’s ill-conceived tweet last year exacerbated the situation. Instead, the Liberals have found political value in portraying themselves as welcoming and compassionate and their opponents as cruel and xenophobic.

To put it another way, Canada has a mediocre government that is trying to deflect from its own missteps and craft a specific political narrative heading into an election year. That’s it. We don’t need bizarre and convoluted conspiracy theories to make sense of their actions.

Rob Breakenridge is host of “Afternoons with Rob Breakenridge” on Global News Radio 770 Calgary and a commentator for Global News.

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