Friday, March 18, 2011

This Week in Alberta: The Liberals Land their Man

Maverick MLA Raj Sherman has found a new home with the Alberta Liberals. Sort of. He will sit as an independent Liberal for now, and run under the party's banner in the next election. And, oh yeah, he also announced his candidacy in the ALP leadership race.

For Sherman, it's a logical fit. He's been involved with the federal Liberals in the past. His best chance of re-election in Edmonton-Meadowlark is as a Liberal. He'd already indicated his desire to run for leadership, and the ALP needs a leader.

For the Liberals, there is a risk. I don't think it's fair to call Sherman a "loose cannon", but only because that implies he's tied loosely to the ship. For all intents and purposes, Sherman is a cannon tied to a rabid rhinoceros. He won't tow the party line, he's highly emotional, and he's prone to embelishment and exageration.

Still, he's tough and he's passionate, and is seen as a straight shooter who will fight for better Health Care. So despite the risk, this must still be considered a good catch by the Alberta grits. The party is desperate for media attention and Sherman will provide just that. After losing Dave Taylor, this gives them momentum - after all, it's the first time in over 70 years an MLA has crossed the floor to the Liberals.

It also gives them added credibility on the Health Care file - if Sherman's allegations pan out (still a big "if"). Albertans may not like a lot of things about the Liberals, but many would consider voting Liberal if they saw it as a symbolic vote for better Health Care. The ALP may finally have their wedge issue, and their ticket to relevancy.



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