Only days after announcing that he would remain an Independent MLA in the upcoming Spring Sitting of the Assembly, the Liberals continue to court former PC MLA Dr. Raj Sherman. The day before the first stop of a province-wide Friends of Medicare tour which Dr. Sherman is a keynote speaker, the Liberal Caucus distributed a media release suggesting that the it was a joint appearance of the Independent MLA and Liberal leader Dr. David Swann (Dr. Swann was front and centre at the town hall meeting held in his constituency of Calgary-Mountain View).
After experiencing a year of dismal political fortunes in 2010, the Liberals would love Dr. Sherman to join their eight MLA Official Opposition Caucus, especially at the expense of the new Alberta Party, which gained its first MLA last week. Regardless of Dr. Sherman’s political arrangement in the coming months, focusing on health care could be a smart strategy for the Liberals in 2011.
Adding to the peculiarity to the situation is Friends of Medicare’s effective voice, David Eggen, who is a former NDP MLA and that party’s nominated candidate in Edmonton-Calder. Staff at the NDP Caucus have invited almost 400 of their supporters to join a Facebook Page urging the Good Doctor Sherman to join their ranks. This is the NDP’s second attempt at creating a Facebook movement to recruit the Independent MLA into their two MLA Caucus.
All-Party debate on health care
Wildrose Alliance leader Danielle Smith accepted a challenge by Dr. Sherman to participate in an all-party leaders debate on health care. As a columnist with the Calgary Herald, Ms. Smith wrote in support of changes implemented by former Health Minister Ron Liepert and as her party’s leader supported the bankrupt private-for-profit Health Resource Centre.
It might be a difficult debate to arrange anytime soon due to the Progressive Conservatives and Alberta Party each being in a period without permanent leaders.
No-win for David Swann
The Edmonton Journal’s Graham Thomson wrote a column on the no-win situation facing Dr. Swann and its similarity to that of the Premier.
“Talk to a Tory MLA about Stelmach and you hear about a decent, honest and intelligent man who is awkward, uncharismatic and a political disappointment. It’s like talking to a Liberal MLA about Swann.”