The evolution continues at the Alberta Legislature, with PC MLA Doug Griffiths and Liberal Leader Raj Sherman announcing Monday that they are stepping down.
Sherman, an emergency room doctor, said Monday morning that it is time to move on and he is resigning as leader immediately and not seeking reelection during the anticipated spring election. The Edmonton-Meadowlark MLA is being investigated by Elections Alberta. It is alleged he violated contribution limits, donating more than $15,000 to the party.
The Liberals currently hold just five seats. The party will appoint an interim leader on Sunday.
Three of the party’s five MLAs are not seeking reelection, including Kent Hehr and Darshan Kang, who both plan to run as Liberals in the upcoming federal election.
Sherman, a former Tory maverick MLA, won the Liberal leadership race in a landslide Sept. 2011 vote, getting 4,684 votes for the win — 54% of the total tally. He was first elected a PC MLA in 2008 but was later kicked out of caucus and sat as an independent after criticizing emergency room waits.
In Dec. 2012, Sherman called the inquiry into queue jumping in Alberta’s health-care system a “joke and a sham” following intense questioning. Sherman was grilled by the commission council at the inquiry for over three hours — and at times the ER doc became emotional. Sherman also testified that he has written prescriptions and assessed politicians that stopped by his legislature office. He denied that this is queue jumping, instead telling the inquiry panel that it was “professional courtesy.” He said if he was going to be roasted for treating MLAs, then they should be just as much at fault for asking him to do so.
Then-NDP Leader Brian Mason defended Sherman, agreeing that the inquiry was pointless. Both said that what needed to be investigated was claims of doctor intimidation.
Sherman thanked his family, friends and colleagues as he made his exit announcement. ”Be the change you want to see in the world. Never cease striving for the very best for yourselves, for others, and from your government,” he concluded.
Meanwhile, earlier on Monday, Battle River-Wainwright MLA Doug Griffiths announced Monday he is resigning immediately.
Griffiths was first elected as an MLA for Wainwright in April 2002 when he was 29 years old, making him the youngest-ever provincial politician. Griffiths had been a teacher for three years.
In Nov. 2013, Griffiths as Municipal Affairs Minister took full responsibility for “misinformation” surrounding a new provincial bill and apologized to over 700 municipal leaders and officials. Speaking at the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties (AAMDC) conference in downtown Edmonton, Griffiths clarified that the Modernizing Regional Governance Act (Bill 28) isn’t mandatory and won’t put mayors in jail. When asked by reporters why he chose to apologize, Griffiths said it wasn’t his intention to ram the bill through, and he always wanted feedback from municipal leaders but he “didn’t have enough time” before the bill was introduced.
Griffiths was later stripped of his post and moved to Service Alberta. He was moved to the backbench in September when Premier Jim Prentice became PC leader.
Red Deer-North PC MLA Mary Anne Jablonski also announced Monday she will not be running again. She was first elected MLA in 2000. Another Monday departure announcement came via Twitter from Calgary-Varsity PC MLA Donna Kennedy-Glans, elected in 2012.