Sherman looking into lawsuit

A member of the Alberta legislature who was booted from the government caucus for publicly criticizing state of health care is rattling a legal sabre.

EDMONTON — A member of the Alberta legislature who was booted from the government caucus for publicly criticizing state of health care is rattling a legal sabre.

Dr. Raj Sherman says he is angry with what he calls a smear campaign against him and has hired lawyer Brian Beresh over statements made by some members of Alberta’s medical community.

The head of the Alberta Medical Association has already apologized for asking colleagues to “look out” for Sherman’s well-being, who is also an emergency room physician.

Sherman contends it’s an attempt to discredit him as mentally unstable.

Beresh told a pro-medicare rally in Edmonton today that he has already written letters asking for apologies over what he says were defamatory statements.

“Dr. Sherman believes he became the subject of a whisper campaign, and then a public campaign to destroy his good reputation — a familiar refrain — attack the messenger because the message is too uncomfortable,” Beresh told about 150 people who gathered on the steps of the Alberta legislature for the rally. “As a result of what has occurred to Dr. Sherman, I will immediately commence an investigation into the events of the last 30 days to determine if there has been a conspiracy against my client, which some have suggested is a conspiracy to silence him and discredit him.”

Beresh also says he will look into whether there has been any release of private information on Sherman, but he wouldn’t elaborate.

The head of the medical association, Dr. Patrick White, got involved after a legislature member contacted him, saying he was concerned about Sherman’s well-being.

White, who is also a psychiatrist then called other doctors to ask them to look out for Sherman. Sherman said one colleague told him there were rumours circulating that he had become “manic.”

Premier Ed Stelmach has said that Fred Horne, the junior health minister who made the phone call that got the alleged smear campaign started, won’t face any discipline.

Stelmach noted that Horne and Sherman knew each other from before their involvement in politics, and that Horne was showing “compassion” for his friend.

The rally where Sherman and Beresh appeared was organized by Friends of Medicare and many of the speakers, which included federal health critic Ujjal Dosanjh, expressed opposition to changes that were passed last week to the Alberta Health Act.

Critics accuse the bill of undermining public healthcare in favour of a two-tiered system

“There is a myth out there that we cannot afford public healthcare, that it’s not sustainable. And that’s a big lie,” Dosanjh told the crowd.

But in a media statement after the rally, Alberta’s health minister said there is no agenda to privatize the province’s health system.

“Albertans want better access, shorter waits, and greater accountability, and we’re acting on that,” Gene Zwozdesky said in the statement.

“Our government has committed to do exactly what Albertans asked, and that is to consult with them if, and when, we want to consider any changes to existing health care legislation.”