Let the courting begin.
With Dr. Raj Sherman now booted out of the PC Caucus, the other political parties must be literally frothing at the mouth for an opportunity to bring the rogue Raj into the fold.
It’s assumed that the Alberta Liberals have been talking with Dr. Sherman since the brouhaha erupted last week when his emotional email to his own PC caucus and leader was leaked. In the email, he said that Stelmach had “broken his promise” to Albertans. Insiders say Sherman chose to run for the Conservatives because he thought he could improve things more effectively from “the inside.” Apparently, that is not the case. Two years later, he is extremely frustrated with his inability to bring about improvements to health care. Having Dr. Sherman join the ALP would be an unexpected gift for the Liberals. It would give them a much-needed boost as they try to stave off the Alberta Party’s growing popularity.
But the Alberta Party has likely also set its sights on Dr. Sherman and the Twittersphere is abuzz with speculation (probably more like wishful thinking) that he will join the fledgling and as of yet, leaderless party. A leadership contest is planned for early 2011 and having a sitting MLA join them would give the enigmatic party, composed of an odd assortment of characters (ex Greens, eccentric right wingers, self-proclaimed progressive refugees from the Tories), a huge injection of credibility.
Then there’s the Wildrose Party…although it seems like an unlikely pairing, stranger things have happened. The Wildrose might consider having Dr. Sherman join them–if not for any reason other than pure spite for the ruling Tories. They likely don’t agree on anything other than “the Alberta PC government sucks” and similarly, Dr. Sherman could theoretically, lose his way and join the Wildrose just to get back at his former colleagues. This would be a major disappointment for everyone who has been cheering for him, as the Wildrose is largely believed to be at the ready to dismantle Alberta’s health care system even further than the Tories. Dr. Sherman is on record as saying that business people should not be responsible for running the health care system, in direct contrast to the Wildrose, who believe that business will “save” health care. Dr. Sherman is a well-respected emergency room physician and a move to the Wildrose would surely be the ultimate sell-out.
Staying as an Independent might seem like an appealing option as the holiday season approaches and things wind down. Almost certainly, Dr. Sherman’s calendar would open up and he could spend time with his family and enjoy some relative peace and quiet. However, as others have discovered, being an Independent backbencher can be a lonely and not very rewarding gig.
The Tories have hinted that Dr. Sherman might be welcomed back into caucus if he mends some fences. It will be interesting to see if he makes any overtures in that direction. In an interview with Alberta PrimeTime, he has hinted that he might consider a return to the PCs after he gauges the reaction to his introduction of an amendment to the Alberta Health Act to give it “some teeth.” He says he also wants to take some time to “clear his head.”
Of course, to slink back to the Tories would put a serious dent in his current status as “healthcare hero.” A return to the caucus that gave him the boot would almost certainly not sit well with voters in the next election. Then again, voters are incredibly forgiving of their Tory favourites. Such is the reality of politics in Alberta.