The new leader of the Alberta Liberal Party said Albertans have to work together to solve the problems facing the province.
Dr. Raj Sherman said Albertans should focus on solutions, not party lines.
“As the new leader of the official opposition, I feel a profound responsibility to all the people of Alberta,” Sherman said. “Democracy flourishes when elected officials are principled, thoughtful and strong. For me and my caucus job one will be to help Albertans build a better province.”
A former Progressive Conservative MLA first elected in Edmonton Meadowlark in 2008, Sherman takes the party helm from David Swann.
Sherman, 45, who was kicked out of the PC caucus for criticizing government health care policy, earned 55 per cent of the 8,640 votes cast Sept. 10.
“Yes, there are challenges, and yes, I feel that the government has made mistakes,” Sherman said. “But as a pragmatic public servant, I want to stop playing the blame game. I don’t care about right versus left. As my predecessor David Swann often says, we should focus on right versus wrong. In other words, let’s focus on the problems of Albertans and work together to solve them.”
Sherman, who after studying medicine at the University of Alberta specialized in family and emergency medicine, listed the challenges facing Albertans.
Sherman pointed out oil has been selling for between $85 to $100 a barrel, yet the province is running a deficit.
“We used to run surpluses when oil was at $40 a barrel,” Sherman said. “That’s a problem.”
Sherman, who was a STARS flight physician and served as president of emergency medicine for the Alberta Medical Association, said the health care system remains in crisis, noting that wait times and cancer death rates are too high.
Other challenges include schools that are overcrowded and under-resourced, seniors who aren’t getting the care or respect to which they are entitled.
“Our energy sector is under constant attack from people who don’t understand our most important industry and the crucial role it plays in our economy,” Sherman added. “Even worse, we’re shipping unrefined oil and, more importantly, well-paying jobs down our pipelines.”
Sherman is confident the problems can be solved.
“It takes the right kind of leadership — imaginative and visionary, but also pragmatic and practical, based on the best possible evidence,” Sherman said.
Sherman has to show Albertans the Liberal party is the best choice to tackle the challenges.
“We all want what’s best for this province we love, and we’ll prove it by focusing on the issues that are most important to Albertans,” Sherman said.
Sherman promised a balanced budget and a stable economy.
“Soon, Alberta will have the opportunity to drive Canada’s economy once again, for the third time in recent history,” Sherman said. “We will seize this opportunity when it comes. We need to hit the economic home run that Albertans have always deserved to protect our prosperity not just for today, but for future generations.”
The province has to develop an economic infrastructure that allows for better jobs, knowledge-based industries and competitive resource revenues.
“We all want a better province,” Sherman said. “And we all need to help build it. There’s far too much unrealized potential in this province and its people; we will fight harder to tap that potential.”