Sherman accuses Tory MLA of smear campaign

MLA Raj Sherman is accusing one of his former Progressive Conservative caucus colleagues of mounting a smear campaign against him.
Independent MLA Dr. Raj Sherman speaks to reporters at the Alberta legislature Thursday morning. ((CBC))
MLA Raj Sherman is accusing one of his former Progressive Conservative caucus colleagues of mounting a smear campaign against him.

Sherman alleges Edmonton-Rutherford MLA Fred Horne questioned his mental state in a phone call to psychiatrist Dr. P.J. White, the president of the Alberta Medical Association.

Sherman is an emergency room doctor.

"I find this personally offensive as an elected member of the Alberta legislature who happens to be a physician," Sherman said. "I find this very disappointing."

Sherman was suspended from the Tory caucus Monday for criticizing the Stelmach government's record on health care. He now sits as an independent in the Alberta legislature

Horne was appointed this week to replace Sherman as the parliamentary assistant for health.

Horne admits he called White but only because the three men are friends. He denies he was trying to spread rumours or question Sherman's mental fitness.

Horne said Sherman stood up many times and appeared "visibly upset" during an overnight debate at the legislature on his proposal to enshrine limits on emergency room waits in the Alberta Health Act.

"It was strictly trying to rally support around a friend who's been very courageous but is also doing so under a great deal of stress," Horne said.

Legislature to deal with allegation Monday

The Alberta New Democrats believe Sherman was subject to "intimidation and obstruction" in his parliamentary duties by Horne's actions.

Edmonton-Rutherford MLA Fred Horne was appointed parliamentary assistant for health earlier this week. ((CBC))
NDP Leader Brian Mason served a notice of motion to the Speaker's office Thursday that he plans to raise the allegation as a point of privilege in the Alberta legislature. The matter will be dealt with on Monday.

In the notice of motion, Mason suggests Horne made "allegations that impugn [Sherman's] reputation and thus his ability to fulfill his parliamentary responsibilities." The notice of motion does not describe what those allegations were.

Sherman made headlines over the past week for his sharp criticism of Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach and how the province has managed long lines in the province's emergency rooms.

Sherman said he has no intention of rejoining the Alberta Progressive Conservative party. 

"I think it's time that this corrupt government comes clean," he said.

Opposition MLAs debated changes to the Alberta Health Act proposed by Sherman all night starting Wednesday and continuing into Thursday.