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Tory MLA Raj Sherman suspended from caucus
Published Monday, November 22, 2010 6:35PM MST
A Tory MLA who criticized his own government over health care reforms has been suspended from the PC caucus.
Dr. Raj Sherman, who was also the parliamentary assistant for health, made headlines in recent days after he aired his frustration and concern with the province's health care system in an e-mail to more than 30 people, a list that included Premier Ed Stelmach and Health Minister Gene Zwozdesky.
He held nothing back in the e-mail revealing that he had recently offered his resignation to the minister after he felt he could no longer support decisions made by Alberta Health Services.
Sherman also took direct aim at the premier accusing Stelmach of broken promises.
"The premier made a promise to ER doctors in writing and has broken his promise not only to ER doctors, but also to the seniors, the 1.8 million Albertans who present for emergency care and their 2 million family members, and to all front-line health care professionals."
But Sherman softened his tone a bit after meeting with the premier last week. Sherman said his frustrations peaked recently because his ailing father had several near-death experiences while waiting for health care, which he also opened up about in the e-mail.
Sherman also singled out the former health minister, Ron Liepert, who he said was "rude and offensive to front-line staff."
"The previous minister, to be honest, was quite rude and offensive to all front-line staff. Doctors, nurses and patients. I allowed that to happen. I didn't speak up, so I take responsibility for that," he said.
Liepert called the comment "hurtful and "totally inappropriate."
There was no reason given as to why Sherman was suspended, but critics have their ideas.
"It puts a chill against anyone that would speak against this premier and this government," said Liberal Leader David Swann.
Liepert said he won't be making any quick gestures to get Sherman back in caucus.
"I personally believe he needs to retract the comments he made about me and if he fails to do so then I don't believe he should sit in caucus."
Despite his suspension, Sherman vows he won't be silenced about his concerns surrounding the health system.
"I have a moral and ethical duty to report to the public what is happening," said Sherman.
Tory MLA Guy Boutilier who was kicked out of the Stelmach administration after being openly critical of the government, said Sherman had to learn the hard way that "dissent is not tolerated in Stelmach's government."
The Stelmach Government said this is an indefinite suspension and Sherman could sit as an independent for the rest of the session.
Sherman said he has been speaking with his friends in other parties, but right now is not considering crossing the floor.
He said he isn't sure if he'll run in the next election.
With files from Kevin Armstrong