Will Raj Sherman shake down Tories?

By Tejay Gardiner

EDMONTON — Over the past 11 months, Edmonton-Meadowlark MLA Raj Sherman has been thrown out of the Progressive Conservative caucus, spent time as an Independent, and become leader of the Liberal Party and the Official Opposition.

Raj Sherman 2
Raj Sherman addresses his constituents at a town hall meeting February 5, 2011, at the Aldergrove Community Hall. Photograph by Isaac Kaplyuk.

The Tories have just celebrated the party’s 40th year in power, and if they succeed in the next provincial election, they will be Canada’s longest running political dynasty. Raj Sherman is determined to not let that happen.

“I’m in election mode,” Sherman said, while speaking to second-year journalism students at Grant MacEwan University.

No election has been called, but depending on the outcome of the PC leadership vote on Oct. 1, Albertans could be at the polls before the year ends.

Challenges ahead

There are many challenges ahead for Sherman and the Liberal party: unifying a fractured party, building constituencies, funding campaigns and changing voters’ attitudes.

“The word ‘Liberal’,” is a challenge,” Sherman said. “We need to get past the labels and base decisions on values, not on PC or Liberal.”

Edmonton-Strathcona Liberal candidate Matthew Sinclair, who ran in his first federal campaign in May, sees another challenge for Raj Sherman.

“I suppose the greatest challenge is the upstart Wildrose Party,” Sinclair said. “And there are going to be a lot of people fear-mongering I imagine… calling him opportunistic… but he can easily get through that I’m sure.”

Faithful constituents

Sherman keeps his MLA post until the next election. In a previous interview with West Edmonton Local, Sherman said maintaining the support of his Edmonton-Meadowlark constituents is a necessity to win the next election.

Edmonton-Meadowlark constituents encouraged Sherman to run for the Liberal leadership in March, he told the Edmonton Journal, so he should feel confident that they will continue to support him under the Liberal banner.

Sinclair is confident they will.

“I’m pretty sure his constituents will stand by him because the 2008 provincial election was about health care,” he said. “The Conservatives promised to fix health care and they didn’t, that’s why Raj Sherman spoke out. And that’s why a lot of people see a lot of virtue in what he did.”

Meadowlark residents ponder Tory takedown

Meadowlark residents seem to be torn over whether Albertans are ready for change.

Daniel Chamberlin, 18, is a Meadowlark resident and thinks it will be tough for Sherman to change voters’ conservative roots, but sees hope in young voters and senior voters who Sherman may win over with his charisma and health care platform.

“I think he is good with people. The younger demographic will probably move towards him,” Chamberlin said. “There are a lot of seniors here. Health care is important here…so I think that if he can provide the health needs that these people want then he will be in for sure.”

Fellow Meadowlark resident Bill Rushton said he’s ready for change but he’s not convinced the Liberals are the ones to defeat the Tories. Although Rushton has supported the PCs in the past, he may put his faith in Danielle Smith, leader of the Wildrose Alliance, this time around.

“I think people are feeling the same way I am, they’re looking for change,” said Rushton from his car window while parked in Meadowlark shopping district.

Liberal supporter Sherry Zimmerman feels Sherman may be the man to create change.

“He might actually shake things up,” Zimmerman said, Name recognition might help, she said. “People who might not normally vote Liberal might say to themselves, “Let’s give them a try.” You never know.”

The Edmonton-Meadowlark constituency is bounded by 156 Street to the east and the city’s western edge. Stony Plain Road and the Whitemud mark the community’s north and south boundaries.


  1. Canbuhay

     I’d vote for a Daniel Smith too if he was running against the Tories but I’m pretty sure the leader of the Wildrose is female.

  2. Hi, Canbuhay. Thanks for the catch. We have corrected Danielle Smith’s name.