"Meet the new boss, same as the old boss."
Those words were immortalized in 1971 in the Who's classic rock anthem, "Won't Get Fooled Again".
Not only did the song include Keith Moon's manic drumming and bassist John Entwistle's amazing fingerwork, it also featured singer Roger Daltrey screaming like never before along with songwriter Pete Townshend's windmill guitar playing and a wicked synthesizer.
I thought of this song as I contemplated what might happen when former attorney general David Eby is sworn in as B.C.'s next premier later this year.
His first order of business will be to choose a new cabinet.
That's when we'll find out if this new boss is, in fact, same as the old boss.
The proof will come in whether Premier Eby retains Adrian Dix as health minister and whether Dix continues with Dr. Bonnie Henry as provincial health officer.
With that in mind, I'm going to bring up a column I wrote six months ago. It was entitled "Dr. Bonnie Henry, Adrian Dix, and the rise of pro-COVID demonstrations in British Columbia".
It was one of several futile attempts this year to educate members of the NDP caucus about the failure of Dix and Henry to convey that COVID-19 is a vascular disease. The column also highlighted that COVID-19 is associated with serious neurological problems, which have been underplayed by the province.
"Neither of them uttered a word of sorrow for never seriously educating the public about the airborne nature of the disease and for not launching media campaigns emphasizing the importance of keeping windows open," I wrote after the second anniversary of COVID's arrival in B.C.
By the time Eby is sworn in as premier, there will have been more than 4,000 COVID-linked deaths in the province.
If Eby is serious about this issue, it will be clear in his cabinet picks.
He can keep Dix as health minister, ensuring that the status quo will continue.
Or Eby can put someone in that position who's keen to slow the demand on health services by working harder to contain the spread of COVID-19.
For that, I would nominate Bowinn Ma, a trained engineer who represents North Vancouver–Lonsdale.
That's because the next health minister is going to need an engineering mindset to show that the province is as serious about cleaning indoor air as it is in ensuring clean drinking water is delivered to people's homes.
Besides, Ma has shown an appreciation for demand-side management in transportation, so why not in health care? We haven't seen that this year with COVID-19.
Eby could also demonstrate that the new boss isn't like the old boss by appointing an education minister who is prepared to listen to the Safe Schools Coalition B.C. That would lead to more steps to improve indoor air in classrooms and possibly even providing school staff with N95 respirators if they request them.
Perhaps Eby might also want to look to replacing Jennifer Whiteside as education minister with someone technologically proficient, like Brenda Bailey. She's a former tech executive and the MLA for Vancouver–False Creek. It would send a message to voters that change just might be in the air in classrooms across the province.
Finally, B.C. needs an attorney general who takes the human rights of kids with immunocompromised family members seriously. Eby did not do that by sitting idly by as Henry and Dix dismantled protections for the marginalized and immunocompromised by scrapping the provincewide mask mandate—in effect, letting COVID-19 run rampant.
Here, I would nominate the MLA for Vancouver-Hastings, Niki Sharma, as the next attorney general. Sharma has a history of standing up for human and animal rights, even when what she was saying wasn't popular with everyone.
This fall, as another wave of COVID-19 likely washes over the province, we're going to need an attorney general with backbone. Sharma is probably as good a choice as anyone in the caucus, though I expect that Eby will play it safe and install a Horgan and Dix enabler, Murray Rankin, to that position.
In closing, I don't expect Eby to take my advice. After all, New Democrats have been known in recent years to be more concerned about what's good politically rather than following the science in a range of public-policy areas. This may mean that we'll be stuck with Dix as health minister for at least a couple more years.
In the meantime, all those who would be disappointed in that outcome can take solace in listening to some old music from the Who.
If nothing else, it might make them mad enough to keep up the fight for cleaner indoor air in B.C.