Alberta Politics

raj sherman. where to from here?

Independent MLA Raj Sherman at the Rally for Public Healthcare on December 4.

There may have been eighty three men and women (mostly men) sitting on the floor of the Legislative Assembly, but none made as much impact on the direction of the fall sitting than Dr. Raj Sherman. The medical doctor, first term MLA for Edmonton-Meadowlark, and now-former Parliamentary Assistant for Health was ejected from the Progressive Conservative caucus after criticizing Premier Ed Stelmach and former Minister of Health Ron Liepert and became an overnight hero to Albertans frustrated with the healthcare system. Dr. Sherman became a one-man wrecking crew and probably inflicted more damage to the PC Party in a month than any of the opposition MLAs have done in the past five years.

With the fall sitting ended and assuming he will not resign as an MLA, the big question is: where does this now Independent MLA go from here?

Stay Independent: One of Dr. Sherman’s biggest strengths is that he is not interested in being a politician. He has gained an incredible amount of media attention since becoming an Independent and his shedding of partisan ties has helped solidify his credibility as a voice for the public healthcare system in the Assembly. The challenge for any Independent MLA is the lack of financial resources available to non-party MLAs. Dr. Sherman has ridden a wave of support while being publicly backed by all of the opposition parties and his medical colleagues, but how long will this last?

Rejoin the Progressive Conservatives: After being indefinitely suspended form the PC caucus, Energy Minister Liepert said that he would refuse to support Dr. Sherman’s return to the PC caucus unless he completely withdrew the criticisms he expressed in a November interview with the Edmonton Journal. Making it even less likely he will return to the PC caucus was the alleged whisper campaign begun by Edmonton-Rutherford PC MLA Fred Horne, who has taken over Dr. Sherman’s former role as Parliamentary Assistant for Health.

Sit with the Liberals: Previous to his election as a PC MLA, Dr. Sherman had supported former Ontario Education Minister Gerard Kennedy in his bid to lead the Liberal Party of Canada in 2006 and was courted to run for the Liberals before the 2008 election. As a moderate, Dr. Sherman would probably be comfortable sitting in Official Opposition Liberal caucus, and while I am sure that David Swann would be ecstatic to have him join their ranks recent polling showing that party falling to 19% support might make it a less than appealing jump.

Become the first Alberta Party MLA: As the first MLA for the Alberta Party, Dr. Sherman would have the opportunity to help shape and provide a voice for a new and growing political party that has attracted many political activists across the province (including many key organizers from Naheed Nenshi‘s Mayoral campaign in Calgary). Dr. Sherman would likely be blocked by Speaker Ken Kowalski from accessing many additional financial resources, a challenge that the Wildrose Alliance caucus has been forced to deal with.

Join the Wildrose Alliance MLA: If door is closed to rejoining the PC caucus, joining the four MLA Wildrose Alliance caucus might look like the best opportunity that Dr. Sherman has to becoming Minister of Health after the next election. The question would is could support the negative tone that Danielle Smith and her MLAs have taken towards the public healthcare system?

Make the New Democratic Party a trio: Dr. Sherman appeared with NDP MLA Brian Mason at a recent rally for public healthcare at the Legislature, but I would be very surprised if his politics lined up with the two MLA social democratic caucus. Next to rejoining the PCs, this might be the most least likely scenario.

18 replies on “raj sherman. where to from here?”

We can’t forget that many of the comments Dr. Sherman has made about his former political home make it all but impossible to return to the PCs. I think the Liberal caucus is the most probable but none of this has followed the path of the likely outcome to date, so why would this question be answered in a predictable fashion?

My guess (and it’s just that) is that Dr Sherman has likely had quite enough of the nonsense that goes on inside Alberta’s Legislature. I don’t imagine we’ll see him running for re-election in 2012. That’s just my personal hunch mind you.

I think he would lose credibility with voters if he re-joined the PCs. Especially since the PCs have made it quite clear that they don’t care for any type of discord or dissonance in the party. People are willing to listen to what Raj has to say. I think it’s more valuable for him to be a dissenting voice speaking for the system rather then for a party. So I’m hoping he remains independent.

I hope Dr. Sherman does what he thinks is right. The conflict he obviously felt in the PC caucus was destroying his soul.

Kudos for Dr. Sherman for speaking out. That being said he could have been much more successful if had given thought to how he presented his thoughts and arguments. He has support within the PC party but did not conduct himself well and paid the price.

Hi everyone, thanks for the comments!

Duncan: I agree that it would seem like the most probably place, but nothing about the past month has been probable.

Debbie: I don’t know who his family supports, but I am not sure how much of an influence this will have considering he used to be a Liberal and ran for the PCs.

Joining the NDP or Alberta Party would put him on the fast track to obscurity. And if having a Doctor as party leader can’t help the Liberals, having another as an MLA surely won’t do much good either.
He would likely have the most political traction with the WRA and would likely have a good deal of input in shaping or “massaging” any WRA health care policies.
But if I were Raj, I’d stay an independent for the time being and set a series of townhall meetings and ask his constituents what they’d like him to do and then proceeds on that input.

raj sherman’s options are pretty limited…considering his views I don’t think the Wildrose would be an option, the Albert Party would be a disaster with his best option being the Alberta Liberals…personally if i were him, I would sit tight until the new year.

@Duncan Wojtaszek, Dave Climenhaga

Raj’s options are wide open. The PC’s chose party loyalty to be more important than public loyalty. Sherman’s departure just reinforced a serious undertone in the PC Party, that they don’t care about the public, nor do they care damn about democracy.

He gets canned for doing the right thing. The rest of the spineless MLA’s stood by and watched their colleague take the arrows and he did it without complaint and regrets.

I am shocked that more writers like you David J. are not extolling the virtues of a man that put partisan politics aside for the greater welfare of mankind in Alberta.

Mr. Climenhaga, what you should be writing about, is how the Tory party has lost its moral compass and mandate to govern, not to mention the trust of the people. Lie after lie has been leaked and still you write with sympathetic undertones in favor of the PC’s.

Wojtaszek, forget about the dxmn party for a second and think about the constituents and citizens of Alberta. We focus so much on the partisanship of it all, we never remember the bigger picture, that to serve public office is to serve the people, above all else and in the hour of hesistation, it should always come to bear, that you serve the people first, as an elected official, the party is secondary.

Unfortunately, the Tories serve themselves first. Shame on those that keep supporting this way of being.

We want Alberta back for Albertans, we are tired of partisanship.

Sherman is the only true human and real man in the Leg. The rest of them are just heartless, crony, loyalty frat boys, who don’t deserve the seat they sit on.


I saw Sue Huff’s piece on MLA behavior. You know, most of the Tory machinery would not qualify, the way that they subvert democracy. Forget about public behavior, how about the way that they are governing?

Why did the Tories have to be shamed into action, while people die in the ER’s? Private healthcare docs come out, pvt healthcare schedules leaked out by NDP, evidence that Tories ignored the ER deaths for 2 years, such a mountain of lying, coverups and it baffles me how short an Albertan’s attention span is.

Alberta has ceased to function as a democracy with a votership so stagnant and conditioned to believe the myth that if anybody other than the Tories come to power, that something huge will be lost!…Well it already has been squandered and lost!….look at our healthcare, roads and education….we have squandered our right to basic things here…so the question is….Where TF is the money going?????

@Duncan, dave, daveB,

BTW, I did vote PC for the last 3 elections, I stand guilty as charged of putting these mental midgets in power.

I have new name for the PC’s….Regressive CON-Secretives.

I predict Sherman will be the first of a few to cross the floor as independents. In the new year, you can expect further attrition out of the Tory cabinet. You can bet Ted Morton does not like the 5-6billion deficit on the balance Sheet and neither does rural Alberta or Calgary.

Integrity and honest is lacking in the PC caucus. Only way to fix that is an election.

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