Kent Hehr
Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities
In office
August 28, 2017 – January 25, 2018
Prime MinisterJustin Trudeau
Preceded byCarla Qualtrough
Succeeded byKirsty Duncan
Minister of Veterans Affairs
In office
November 4, 2015 – August 28, 2017
Prime MinisterJustin Trudeau
Preceded byErin O'Toole
Succeeded bySeamus O'Regan
Associate Minister of National Defence
In office
November 4, 2015 – August 28, 2017
Prime MinisterJustin Trudeau
Preceded byJulian Fantino
Succeeded bySeamus O'Regan
Member of Parliament
for Calgary Centre
In office
October 19, 2015 – October 21, 2019
Preceded byJoan Crockatt
Succeeded byGreg McLean
Member of the Legislative Assembly of Alberta for Calgary-Buffalo
In office
March 3, 2008 – May 5, 2015
Preceded byHarvey Cenaiko
Succeeded byKathleen Ganley
Personal details
Born (1969-12-16) December 16, 1969 (age 52)
Calgary, Alberta, Canada[1]
Political partyLiberal Party of Canada
Alma materUniversity of Calgary
ProfessionLawyer
Websitewww.kenthehr.ca

Kent Hehr PC (born December 16, 1969)[1] is a Canadian politician from Alberta. He was elected as the Liberal Member of Parliament for the riding of Calgary Centre in the 2015 federal election. Hehr was named Minister of Veterans Affairs in the federal Cabinet, headed by Justin Trudeau, on November 4, 2015, and was shuffled to be Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities in August 2017. Hehr resigned from cabinet on January 25, 2018, after allegations of workplace misconduct surfaced from when he was the Member of the Legislative Assembly of Alberta for Calgary-Buffalo.[2][3] He lost his seat in the 2019 Canadian federal election.

On September 6, 2021, it was reported that Hehr would soon file nomination papers to run for mayor in the 2021 Calgary municipal election.[4] He filed for that office but withdrew his candidacy later in September, citing the heightened risks from COVID-19 infection for people with spinal cord injuries.[5]

Before entering politics, Hehr worked as a disability activist and a lawyer.

Personal life

As a teenager, Hehr was active in sports including both baseball and hockey. These are interests which Hehr is still passionate about to this day. He played for the Alberta Junior Hockey League champion Calgary Canucks in 1989–90 and for the Mount Royal College Cougars the following year.

He had a goal of becoming a physical education teacher. However, on October 3, 1991, Hehr was shot as a bystander in a drive-by shooting. He was rendered a C5 quadriplegic; he is paralyzed from the chest down.[6] His injuries ended his plans, and instead Hehr pursued post-secondary studies at Mount Royal College and then at the University of Calgary, from which he earned a Bachelor of Arts in Canadian Studies and a Bachelor of Laws. Upon graduation he was named graduate of the decade and ranked among the top 40 graduates in 40 years. Prior to being elected Member of the Legislative Assembly, Hehr practised law at Fraser Milner Casgrain.

Hehr also became active in the community, leading various groups, such as the Alberta branch of the Canadian Paraplegic Association. In 2008, he was listed as one of "20 Compelling Calgarians" by the Calgary Herald.[7]

Hehr has also been active in numerous community groups within Calgary. He has served on the following boards in the past few years:[8]

Provincial politics

In June 2006, Hehr won the Liberal nomination for Calgary-Buffalo, in the heart of downtown Calgary.[9] He was subsequently elected to the legislature in the March 3, 2008 general election.[3]

After the election, Hehr was chosen to be the Shadow Minister for Justice and Solicitor General for the Alberta Liberal Caucus.[10] As the Shadow Minister, Hehr worked to tackle crime in the province while focusing on other justice issues.

In the legislature, Hehr served on the following committees:[11]

Hehr campaigned for mayor in the 2010 Calgary municipal election but withdrew a month before the vote to endorse Naheed Nenshi.[12]

LGBT rights

In 2014, Hehr proposed a private member's bill into the Alberta Legislature that would urge public schools to support students who wished to create gay-straight alliances.[13] The bill, while supported by the Liberals, Alberta NDP and some Progressive Conservatives, was voted down by a majority of PC and Wildrose MLAs in April.[14]

Six months later Laurie Blakeman brought a private members bill forward which essentially adopted Hehr's motion. Instead of allowing a vote to proceed on this motion, the PC government brought in their own bill, the essence of which allowed public, Catholic, and private school entities to decide whether or not they would allow a Gay-Straight Alliance in their district. Ultimately the PCs brought in a reformed bill that effectively allowed Gay-Straight Alliances in all schools throughout the province.

Gun violence

For Hehr, himself a shooting victim, a major focus has been on gun violence in the province. Soon after he was elected, the City of Calgary became trapped in a gang war which has claimed the lives of many young individuals.[15]

Hehr put pressure on the government to help reduce these numbers. He started by calling on the province to increase the number of police officers on the beat in downtown Calgary. The Mayor and the Police Chief have also joined in his call to increase the number of police officers.[16]

Hehr's most recent call was to give police the power to seize vehicles that contain unregistered firearms, along with the gun.[15] Bill 201 was defeated in second reading on March 9, 2009, with no Conservative MLA support.[17]

Federal politics

Hehr at the 2015 Halifax International Security Forum
Hehr at the 2015 Halifax International Security Forum

On July 17, 2014, following some speculation, Hehr announced he would seek the Liberal nomination in Calgary Centre for the 2015 federal election.[18][19] On November 28, he was acclaimed as the Liberal candidate.[20] The Liberals were very optimistic about their chances in the riding. Conservative incumbent Joan Crockatt had only won a 2012 by-election with 37 percent of the vote, the worst showing for a Tory in Calgary in recent memory. Additionally, a redistribution made the riding slightly friendlier to the Liberals on paper.

At the October 19, 2015 election, Hehr defeated Crockatt by 750 votes. Alongside Calgary Skyview member of Parliament Darshan Kang, who was elected the same evening, Hehr became the first Liberal elected in Calgary since Pat Mahoney in 1968.[20] He and Kang are only the fifth and sixth Liberals to represent Calgary ridings in the party's entire history.

Hehr was appointed Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence in Justin Trudeau's first cabinet on November 4, 2015.[21]

In a cabinet shuffle in late 2017, Hehr became Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities, succeeding Carla Qualtrough on August 28, 2017.[22][23]

In November 2017, it was reported that the Ethics Commissioner was investigating Hehr following accusations that he used Parliamentary Resources to help his father campaign for a seat on the Calgary Board of Education.[24] He was subsequently cleared in this investigation.

In December 2017, Hehr was accused of making insensitive remarks to a group of thalidomide survivors. In a meeting early that year, the members of the group accused Hehr of inappropriate touching, saying "Well you don't have it so bad. Everyone in Canada has a sob story", and in reference to their reduced life expectancy "So you probably have about 10 years left then now, that's good news for the Canadian government."[25] He denied making the statement.

Shortly after, a wife of a veteran suffering from posttraumatic stress disorder came forward accusing him of poor treatment during a meeting in October 2016. The woman said he was "very condescending", gave her only two minutes of his time, when asked a question about the government denying maternity benefits he replied "Well, Ms. McCrea, that is the old question, like asking ... 'When did you stop beating your wife?'",[26] and when asked about support for her family he allegedly responded "you married him, he's your responsibility".[27]

Hehr resigned from cabinet on January 25, 2018, amid two separate allegations of sexual harassment dating to his time in the Alberta legislature. One woman claimed that he had made sexually suggestive remarks to her, while another claimed he'd touched her inappropriately. Hehr apologized for the first incident, saying that while he did not remember meeting the woman, he realized that he had made her uncomfortable. However, he maintained that the second incident was the product of unintentional contact. On June 6, 2018, following the completion of the investigation, Trudeau decided that Hehr would not return to cabinet.[2]

He lost his seat to Conservative Greg McLean in the 2019 federal election, losing over half of his vote from 2015.

2021 mayoral campaign

On September 6, 2021, Global News reported that Hehr would be filing nomination papers to run for mayor in the 2021 Calgary municipal election, which was scheduled for October 18.[4]

Electoral record

Federal

2019 Canadian federal election: Calgary Centre
Party Candidate Votes % ±% Expenditures
Conservative Greg McLean 37,306 56.64 +11.34 $111,276.33
Liberal Kent Hehr 17,771 26.98 -19.54 $112,059.94
New Democratic Jessica Buresi 6,516 9.89 +4.32 $832.79
Green Thana Boonlert 2,853 4.33 +2.13 $7,973.82
People's Chevy Johnston 907 1.38 - $13,514.03
Animal Protection Eden Gould 247 0.38 - $1,717.18
Independent Michael Pewtress 138 0.21 $1,189.15
Christian Heritage Dawid Pawlowski 126 0.19 - none listed
Total valid votes/expense limit 65,864 99.42
Total rejected ballots 385 0.58 +0.21
Turnout 66,249 68.21 -1.89
Eligible voters 97,129
Conservative gain from Liberal Swing +15.44
Source: Elections Canada[28][29][30]
2015 Canadian federal election: Calgary Centre
Party Candidate Votes % ±% Expenditures
Liberal Kent Hehr 28,496 46.52 +27.40 $190,509.57
Conservative Joan Crockatt 27,746 45.30 −10.07 $157,845.73
New Democratic Jillian Ratti 3,412 5.57 −9.59 $19,466.71
Green Thana Boonlert 1,347 2.20 −8.13 $3,584.84
Independent Yogi Henderson 248 0.39 $1,203.28
Total valid votes/Expense limit 61,249 100.00   $222,181.20
Total rejected ballots 227 0.37
Turnout 61,476 72.36
Eligible voters 84,960
Liberal gain from Conservative Swing +18.73
Source: Elections Canada[31][32]

Provincial

2012 Alberta general election: Calgary-Buffalo
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Liberal Kent Hehr 4,740 41.47% -7.36%
Progressive Conservative Jamie Lall 3,506 30.67% -8.18%
Wildrose Mike Blanchard 2,415 21.13%
New Democratic Rebecca Eras 539 4.72% 0.59%
Alberta Party Cory Mack 230 2.01%
Total 11,430
Rejected, Spoiled and Declined 176
Eligible electors / Turnout 26,220 44.26% 13.88%
Liberal hold Swing 0.41%
Source(s)
Source: "05 - Calgary-Buffalo, 2012 Alberta general election". officialresults.elections.ab.ca. Elections Alberta. Retrieved May 21, 2020.
2008 Alberta general election: Calgary-Buffalo
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Liberal Kent Hehr 4,583 48.83% 12.42%
Progressive Conservative Sean Chu 3,646 38.85% -4.68%
Green Stephen Ricketts 611 6.51% -2.16%
New Democratic Robert Lawrence 387 4.12% -1.79%
Social Credit Antoni (Tony) Grochowski 158 1.68% 0.74%
Total 9,385
Rejected, Spoiled and Declined 103
Eligible electors / Turnout 31,223 30.39% -1.33%
Liberal gain from Progressive Conservative Swing 1.43%
Source(s)
Source: "03 - Calgary-Buffalo, 2008 Alberta general election". officialresults.elections.ab.ca. Elections Alberta. Retrieved May 21, 2020.
The Report on the March 3, 2008 Provincial General Election of the Twenty-seventh Legislative Assembly. Elections Alberta. July 28, 2008. pp. 178–180.

[33] [34]

References

  1. ^ a b http://www.kenthehr.ca/index.php?a=bio
  2. ^ a b "Hehr won't return to cabinet, but remains in Liberal caucus after harassment investigation". CBC News. Retrieved 2018-08-06.
  3. ^ a b "Conservatives' Calgary fortress resists change". CBC News. 2008-03-03. Retrieved 2015-09-03.
  4. ^ a b "Former Liberal MP Kent Hehr to enter Calgary mayoral race - Calgary | Globalnews.ca". Global News. Retrieved 2021-09-06.
  5. ^ "Former Liberal MP Kent Hehr drops out of Calgary mayoral race". CBC News. 21 September 2021. Retrieved 22 September 2021.
  6. ^ Fekete, Jason. "Kent Hehr overcomes enormous personal and political obstacles to become Calgary Liberal MP". Ottawa Citizen. Ottawa Citizen. Retrieved 26 August 2016.
  7. ^ Mingo, Rita (2008-01-01). "20 Compelling Calgarians / Injury led lawyer to new rewards". Calgary Herald. Archived from the original on 2011-08-05. Retrieved 2008-03-03.
  8. ^ "MLA for Calgary-Buffalo". Alberta Legislature. Retrieved 2008-08-27.
  9. ^ "Liberals select lawyer as Calgary-Buffalo candidate". CBC News. 2006-06-20. Retrieved 2015-09-03.
  10. ^ "Kent Hehr, Calgary-Buffalo". Alberta Liberal Caucus. Archived from the original on 2009-01-31. Retrieved 2008-08-27.
  11. ^ "Alberta Hansard". Alberta Liberal Caucus. 2008-06-06. Retrieved 2008-08-27.[permanent dead link]
  12. ^ "Crowded race for Calgary mayor". CBC News. 2010-09-20. Retrieved 2015-09-03.
  13. ^ "Gay-straight alliance bill for schools voted down in Alberta - The Globe and Mail". The Globe and Mail. 8 April 2014.
  14. ^ "Critics slam Wildrose after gay-straight alliance motion voted down". Archived from the original on 2014-04-10.
  15. ^ a b "CTV Calgary". CTV Calgary. 2008-07-24. Retrieved 2008-08-27.
  16. ^ "Edmonton Journal". Edmonton Journal. 2008-07-24. Archived from the original on 2008-08-30. Retrieved 2008-08-27.
  17. ^ Alberta Hansard March 9, 2009, 286
  18. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-07-14. Retrieved 2014-07-11.((cite web)): CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  19. ^ https://calgaryherald.com/Kent+Hehr+seek+federal+liberal+nomination+Calgary+Centre/10038440/story.html[dead link]
  20. ^ a b "Kent Hehr named federal Liberal candidate for Calgary-Centre | CBC News".
  21. ^ "Full list of Justin Trudeau's cabinet". CBC News.
  22. ^ MacCharles, Tonda (28 August 2017). "Trudeau shuffles ministers, overhauls Indigenous Affairs, brings friend O'Regan into cabinet | The Star". The Toronto Star.
  23. ^ "Who's who in Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's cabinet shuffle | CBC News".
  24. ^ "Ethics commissioner looking into conduct of minister Kent Hehr after Tory complaint | CBC News".
  25. ^ "Wanted: A disabilities minister sensitive to the needs of others | The Star". Toronto Star.
  26. ^ "Disabilities Minister Kent Hehr apologizes for 'condescending' conversation with Calgary mom | The Star". Toronto Star.
  27. ^ "How many political lives does Kent Hehr have? | The Star". Toronto Star.
  28. ^ "List of confirmed candidates". Elections Canada. Retrieved October 4, 2019.
  29. ^ "Official Voting Results". Elections Canada. Retrieved August 15, 2021.
  30. ^ "Candidate Campaign Returns". Elections Canada. Retrieved September 7, 2020.
  31. ^ "October 19, 2015 Election Results — Calgary Centre (Validated results)". Elections Canada. 21 October 2015. Retrieved 4 November 2015.
  32. ^ "Elections Canada – Preliminary Election Expenses Limits for Candidates". Archived from the original on 2016-03-04. Retrieved 2019-04-30.
  33. ^ "Kent Hehr defeats Joan Crockatt in Calgary Centre | CBC News".
  34. ^ "2015 Federal Election Results".
29th Ministry – Cabinet of Justin Trudeau Cabinet posts (3) Predecessor Office Successor Carla Qualtrough Minister of Sport and Persons with DisabilitiesAugust 28, 2017 – January 25, 2018 Kirsty Duncan Erin O'Toole Minister of Veterans AffairsNovember 4, 2015 – August 28, 2017 Seamus O'Regan Julian Fantino Associate Minister of DefenceNovember 4, 2015 – August 28, 2017 Seamus O'Regan