This weekend, I wrote an article drawing comparisons between the B.C. cabinet's handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and the Vietnam War.
I'm sure that it struck some supporters of the NDP government as a fantastic leap in logic. Especially if they've been relying on mainstream B.C. media coverage for most of their information about the pandemic.
But judging from the flood of notifications in my Twitter feed, the article certainly hit the right chord in some circles.
It closed with a mention of David Halberstam's bestselling book, The Best and the Brightest, which documented how the bright minds in the Kennedy and Lyndon Baines Johnson administrations led America into a disastrous military conflict.
At one point in the piece, I declared that nobody in the NDP caucus or the cabinet would publicly challenge Health Minister Adrian Dix or provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry. I still believe that to be true, given that political parties can easily prevent dissident MLAs from being renominated.
To date, John Horgan has not had any serious problems with dissent in caucus since becoming premier in 2017. In fact, he seems very popular, at least from the outside looking in.
But if I'm proven wrong, here are my best guesses for the three members of the NDP caucus who might raise concerns publicly about the government's failure to tailor policies around the fact that COVID-19 is airborne.
1. David Eby
Eby's partner is a doctor. He also has a quick mind and a prodigious work ethic. Plus, Eby has lots of medical professionals and academics living in his Vancouver–Point Grey constituency, some of whom are no doubt freaked out about government policies like putting COVID-19 patients in the same room with those who don't have the disease. In addition, he's the father of young children—and those are some of the people most at risk to the airborne Omicron variant. Eby has demonstrated that he's capable of changing his mind before. If he were to bolt from the cabinet because he couldn't, in good conscience, adhere to the government's approach, it would send a political shock wave across the province. It's not likely, but maybe he will pull off a monumental surprise at some point, especially if the body count continues to rise.
2. Jinny Sims
Sims really has nothing to lose. She was dumped from cabinet and not reinstated after being cleared by the RCMP in the wake of B.C. Liberal complaints about her constituency work. Plus, she's a former B.C. Teachers' Federation president, so she's probably hearing from teachers who are appalled over the failure of the government to introduce HEPA filters or carbon-dioxide monitoring in classrooms to keep kids safe. It must gall her that a rookie MLA from a safe seat like Jennifer Whiteside was given the education ministry while she has to sit on the backbenches after a term in Parliament, a term in the legislature, and being reelected in a swing seat.
3. Spencer Chandra Herbert
Chandra Herbert likes to read—and if anyone puts the scientific research in front of him, he'll likely have no difficulty wrapping his mind around it. Plus, he has a young son. Chandra Herbert has lots of options even if the party tries to squish him for speaking out. He could teach, win municipal or federal office, run an arts group, or even become a journalist like his twin brother Doug. Chandra Herbert has already qualified for his MLA pension based on his years of pensionable service. And after more than 13 years in the legislature, he's still not in cabinet. Why not go out with a bang?