Monday, August 15, 2011

ALP Leadership Candidate Profiles: The Doctor is in

The Alberta Liberals will be selecting a new leader on September 10th, from among 5 candidates: Laurie Blakeman, Hugh MacDonald, Raj Sherman, Bruce Payne, and Bill Harvey. To vote, simply register here as an ALP supporter by August 19th.

Today, the second part of a series profiling the candidates (previously - Bruce Payne).


RAJ SHERMAN




Background: Sherman moved to Canada from India at a young age, and has lived in Edmonton since the 1980s, attending the U of A and then staying to practice as an emergency room doctor. According to his rateMDs reviews, he was a pretty good one (one review states "McDreamy is an understatement"). Sherman took the plunge into elected politics in 2008, riding the Stelmach wave across Edmonton and taking back Edmonton-Meadowlark for the PCs.

So how did the good doctor go from PC backbencher to ALP leadership frontrunner in under a year? Well, it all comes down to his very own Kai Nagata moment last November, when he fired off a late night e-mail to his entire address book slamming the Stelmach government's Health Care record. Suffice to say, that was it for Raj in the PCs, and his move to the Liberals was a natural fit.

Video: I didn't have a chance to video interview Raj during May's ALP convention, but I include a mash-up of Sherman clips from the all-candidates debate conducted that weekend:



Online: Sherman has a fairly standard website, 570 Facebook supporters, and 2000 followers to what is a mostly mundane Twitter feed.

Can he win? I'd peg Raj as the front runner. Despite being a newcomer to the ALP, he has federal Liberal connections and has signed up a slew of new supporters. The big question for Sherman is how successful he'll be outside of Edmonton and how he'll place on the preferential ballot - after all, with 5 strong candidates, it's unlikely this one will be decided on the first ballot.

My Take: I worked with Raj on the Gerard Kennedy campaign in 2006, and he's certainly a likable chap. However, as his departure from PC caucus and subsequent claims of corruption, bribery, and cover-ups in the Health Care system show, Sherman is a loose cannon, prone to firing off in any direction if he gets worked up about an issue.

That, coupled with his lack of political experience, makes him a huge risk. At the same time, there's something to do said for the ALP taking a risk and going with the wild card. Sherman would bring a jolt of energy to a moribund party, and has credibility on the province's number one issue. Although some feel his Health Care focus makes him too one-dimensional, I honestly think Sherman should try to make it a single issue campaign about Health Care if he wins.

The Liberals have been out of power and largely irrelevant for close to a century, so there's something to be said for taking a chance and going all in on the doctor.

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7 Comments:

  • You have no idea how much we PCs pray for a Sherman win. The Alberta Liberals have been in a giving mood with leaders ever since Decore and we're hoping like hell ALP members (or supporters, or whatever the hell they are), don't turn off the charity taps anytime soon.

    By Anonymous Oh the humanity, at 3:03 PM  

  • I think it's close to a safe bet to say that Dr. Sherman is the front-runner in this contest, though I hear that Hugh MacDonald is out on the hustings gathering traditional Liberal supporters.

    If Sherman wins, focusing on health care seems like the logical choice, and it could help save the Liberals from being wiped out. I thought it was a good strategic move for David Swann to focus on health care in 2010 (though it didn't seem to help the Liberals in the polls, and he resigned).

    A big challenge for the new Liberal leader is to a) survive the next election and b) attract a crop of new candidates who are actually front-bench material (something that has been missing from recent Liberal caucuses and is missing from their current batch of a dozen nominated candidates - with the exception of Rick Miller in Edmonton-Rutherford imho).

    By Anonymous daveberta, at 4:12 PM  

  • Electing a former tory as leader worked out well for the Liberals last time they tried it.

    By Anonymous Andy, at 4:45 PM  

  • CG, it's a cool experiment ALP is running as "the most open party there is" and I'm curious how it will turn out.

    By Anonymous Jacques Beau Verte, at 10:40 AM  

  • If you aren't sure what I meant, check out Raj's Twitter feed today. He's in fine form. As if questioning the professional ethics of his colleagues earlier this year weren't enough, now he's libelling AB Health service providers. He's a prize, all right!

    By Anonymous Oh the humanity, at 2:57 PM  

  • What would Raj Sherman have that David Swann didn't?

    My first impression of Sherman was his infamous letter. My reaction? It looked like it was written by a twelve-year-old. I can't believe he lacked the foresight to get an English grad to proofread before that went public.

    By Blogger Robert Vollman, at 10:21 AM  

  • I dont' like that he came out with these allegations of corruption in healthcare, but was never fully prepared to back them up. Does he care more about Albertans, or protecting his "sources". What has he done about the problem since? He just let it fade away...

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:15 AM  

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