What started off as a less than stellar week for Independent Edmonton-Meadowlark MLA Raj Sherman, turned out to be not so bad for the Doctor turned politician.
Starting the week by failing to produce proof of the serious allegations he raised the previous week accusing the government of paying doctors to stay quiet about patient deaths. A similar, less sensational story, than Dr. Sherman’s story was uncovered days later by intrepid journalists at the CBC.
Dr. Sherman credibility was redeemed at a Friday morning media conference at the Legislature where he joined the leaders of Alberta’s four opposition parties in unity calling for the PC Government to launch an independent public inquiry into health care system. The opposition leaders wanted the PC Government to call a public inquiry to investigate over 300 cases of “compromised care” brought forward by Dr. Paul Parks in the 2010 Fall Session of the Assembly. PC leadership candidates Doug Griffiths and Alison Redford also supported the Opposition’s calls for an inquiry. Although Premier Ed Stelmach and Health Minister Gene Zwozdesky initially resisted the calls, they soon caved to the Opposition’s demands and will allow an investigation by the Health Quality Council of Alberta.
All four of the opposition parties were able to unite around Dr. Sherman’s message this week and this may be the final time they all share the same podium on this issue. The philosophical and political agendas of the four parties, especially the Wildrose Alliance, differ on the future of the public health care system.
The Liberals, Alberta Party, and NDP should be cautious not to fall into Wildrose Alliance‘s consistent narrative, which places much of the blame on the public health care system and Alberta Health Services, rather than the years of instability created by short-sighted policies political interference and constant restructuring by PC Governments. As I have written before, our public health care system is not broken, it just needs some stability – and tender loving care.
A remaining question that Dr. Sherman has yet to answer is whether he will remain an Independent MLA after the Spring sitting of the Assembly. When asked earlier this year, Dr. Sherman said he would make a decision by the end of March, and may even seek the top job of one of the three parties looking for new leaders. Some political watchers have pointed out reasons why he does not have the qualities to be a party leader, yet last week’s redemption would still make him an appealing MLA for the opposition caucuses.
Until he makes his decision, he has already booked engagements with the Edmonton-Rutherford Alberta Party at their March 14 Town Hall meeting on health care, and with the Edmonton-Mill Woods Liberals as the guest speaker at a tribute dinner for the retiring Dr. David Swann.