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Alberta Liberal Leader banking on minority - and cabinet post

MLA Raj Sherman, now Alberta Liberal leader, speaks to a reporter during a break in the filibuster debate on health care at the Alberta Legislature in Edmonton Alta on Thursday November 25, 2010.

Jason Franson for The Globe and Mail/jason franson The Globe and Mail

With - admittedly - little hope of become premier, Alberta Liberal leader Raj Sherman has his eyes on another job.

"Would you agree to name me minister of health in a coalition government?" Dr. Sherman asked the PC and Wildrose leaders in an online debate hosted Monday by two newspapers, in what he called "a hypothetical" if neither rival party wins a majority.

Dr. Sherman has begun speaking openly about his party's dim fate in the polls - typically hovering just above 10 per cent, there's little chance they'll form government. It will take a "miracle" to do so, he said.

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"I do believe in miracles. Albertans can still make that happen," Dr. Sherman said in an interview.

Nonetheless, the emergency room doctor first elected in 2008 has now switched his message, urging progressives to back his party to prevent either the PCs or Wildrose from being able to form a government on their own.

In a minority situation, some PC and Wildrose members have said some would simply cross the floor to the other before they let the Liberals hold the power. But that hasn't deterred the Liberal leader - a former Tory himself.

"Neither can be trusted with a majority," Dr. Sherman said in an interview, saying the Liberals would hold a moral authority over whomever they partnered with.

Which brings us back to the chat - neither leader actually shot the idea down at first.

Wildrose leader Danielle Smith said, typing a smiley face to hit the point home, that she and Dr. Sherman would have "an interesting chat after the election," but that she was hoping for a majority.

PC leader Alison Redford also said she'd wait for the results. "I am very confident in the job that [current health minister]Fred Horne has done," she wrote. Mr. Horne, meanwhile, is in a tight race to hold his south-Edmonton seat.

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Later that day, on her campaign bus, Ms. Smith said, if faced with a minority, she wouldn't rely on a permanent partnership with any one party.

"I think the Stephen Harper approach in a minority situation is the correct one, where you actually work with parties in a loose coalition on issues where you can agree - not a formal coalition. I think there's just too many issues that we're too far apart on with both the Liberals and the NDP," Ms. Smith said.

So, no Health Minister Raj under a Wildrose minority. Dr. Sherman better hope the PCs form a minority and that Mr. Horne loses - or that the Liberal miracle comes through.

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About the Author
Parliamentary reporter

Josh is a parliamentary reporter in Ottawa. Before moving to the nation's capital in 2013, he covered provincial affairs in Edmonton and throughout Alberta. He joined the Globe in 2008 in Toronto before returning to his home province in 2010. More

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