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Alta. MLA kicked from caucus over ER remarks

Monday, November 22nd, 2010 | 3:16 pm

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The Alberta MLA who criticized his own government over its handling of severe backlogs in the province's emergency rooms was suspended Monday from the Progressive Conservative caucus.

Raj Sherman, the MLA for Edmonton-Meadowlark and an emergency room physician, has 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 ERs.

“For me, it's really a matter of principle. I guess the principles of being a doctor and advocating for patients collided with the principles of politics,” Sherman said.

“I don't see a reason why they would have needed to collide. I think politicians and doctors, voters and patients, are one and the same. But for me it's a bit of a sad day.”

Sherman said he will now sit as an Independent.

Criticized premier in leaked email

Last week, Sherman sent an email to his Conservative colleagues, which was leaked to the media, stating that his trust in Stelmach and the government was “severely tarnished” over the ER issue. He accused Stelmach of breaking a promise to fix problems in emergency rooms.

Sherman appeared to soften his stance following a four-hour Tory caucus meeting Thursday morning, shifting the blame from the government onto bureaucrats at the provincial health board, Alberta Health Services.

But on Friday, Sherman criticized former Alberta health minister Ron Liepert for being “rude and offensive” to front-line medical staff. It is not clear whether those remarks factored into Sherman's suspension.

Sherman said he stands by his criticisms of the health care system, which he said were prompted by the government's inaction after Edmonton ER physician Paul Parks sent a letter to the health minister warning of a “catastrophic collapse” of emergency health care in Alberta.

In the letter, Parks documented numerous examples submitted by doctors where patient care was compromised by extreme ER wait times.

“Something simply had to be said,” Sherman said. “I have a moral and ethical duty to say something.”

CBC News

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