Could it be that Dr. Raj Sherman is about to jump to the Alberta New Democratic Party after all?
Readers don’t need to be particularly alert to realize that Dr. Sherman – once the Conservative MLA for Edmonton-Meadowlark, the only physician in Premier Ed Stelmach’s caucus and Parliamentary Assistant to Health Minister Gene Zwozdesky – is now looking for a new political home.
Not that finding such a home is going to be a problem – there’s not an Opposition party in the Alberta Legislature, right, centre or left, that wouldn’t welcome the Independent MLA with open arms. They’re practically lined up on his front porch with chocolates and bouquets of flowers. The New Democrats have even set up a Facebook group to woo him, called, unsubtly, “We Want Raj Sherman to Join the NDP Caucus.”
After all, at the moment he’s pretty much the most popular politician in Alberta! Popular enough for TV, even!
Indeed, Dr. Sherman, who still occasionally works as an Emergency Room physician, nowadays can’t go anywhere in Alberta without strangers walking up to him and congratulating him for his efforts on behalf of public health – surely not what the premier had in mind when he skidded him on Nov. 22!
About the only party that doesn’t want him is the one it could be argued needs him the most – the foundering Conservatives led by Premier Stelmach, who fired Dr. Sherman for doing precisely what’s made him so popular. To wit: speaking up about the horrible state of health care in Alberta under the Conservatives’ bumbling leadership in his now-famous email to everyone.
To say Dr. Sherman struck a chord with Albertans would understate the matter considerably.
Now, there’s been plenty of speculation – some of it in these pages – about Dr. Sherman joining the new Alberta Party, or maybe the Alberta Liberals. But all that was before the details of Dr. Sherman’s Alberta tour began to emerge.
With the Legislature on an unexpected hiatus as Mr. Stelmach’s Tory brain trust desperately seeks a way to restore the government’s equilibrium, Conservative MLAs have been given instructions to scatter to their ridings and take the pulse of the electorate. By the sound of things, that shouldn’t be too hard!
Mr. Stelmach’s cabinet, meanwhile, have their marching orders too – make like a touring rock ’n’ roll band and get out there in the countryside to get those voters settled down!
In the midst of all this, Dr. Sherman decided to have a pan-Alberta rock-star tour of his own, with stops in Edmonton, Calgary, Red Deer, Lethbridge, Medicine Hat and Grande Prairie. Who would bet against the proposition that he’ll get a better reception in all of those places than any Tory cabinet ministers who happen to be in the vicinity?
With the exception of the Edmonton portion of the trip, where Dr. Sherman feels the need to do some communing with the voters in his own west-side Edmonton riding, his rock-star effort will be jointly sponsored by the Friends of Medicare.
Friends of Medicare, in turn, is led by former MLA David Eggen, who seems likely to be returned as NDP representative of his old but slightly redistributed Edmonton-Calder riding after the next provincial election – leastways, that’s what those who ought to know say the Wildrose Alliance’s extensive polling shows. (That’s OK with the rightward-leaning Alliance, by the way, because any seat that doesn’t go to a Conservative in Alberta’s Capital Region helps them elsewhere in the province.)
And Mr. Eggen, your blogger happens to know, will be behind the wheel of the car that takes Dr. Sherman around Alberta on several trips between Jan. 29 and Feb. 26. In other words, Dr. Sherman is going to be alone in a car with the persuasive Mr. Eggen for a minimum of 24 hours, not counting lunch breaks, throughout January and February.
Really, at the end of that experience, how could he not join the NDP?
Now, if he does, that’ll be good news for the NDP’s small but effective caucus because when it comes to Tory health care policy, as the former Parliamentary Assistant for Health, Dr. Sherman knows where pretty well all the bodies are buried.
He certainly knows, for example, the details of the Conservatives’ widely suspected and already partly leaked plan to roll out increased privatization of health care. He likely knows which foreign and domestic corporations are driving Alberta’s health care agenda. He may even know which companies have cut deals with the Conservatives for the day the floodgates are opened to privatization.
In return for this, all that any party that persuades him to join has to do is keep him the heck away from his email account!
Which leaves only one other question: If Dr. Sherman joins the NDP, who is the “one MLA” the rumour mill so assuredly promises will form an Alberta Party caucus in the Legislature during 2011?
Surely not the still Legislatively homeless Dave Taylor, who quit the Liberals in April 2010 to sit as an Independent?
This post also appears on rabble.ca.