Tom Hengen is a politician, psychologist and community worker in Saskatchewan, Canada. He campaigned for the leadership of the Saskatchewan Liberal Party in 1996, and sought election to the Canadian House of Commons in the 1997 election as a candidate of the Liberal Party of Canada. Hengen later joined the Saskatchewan Party.
Early life and career
Hengen was born in Broadview, Saskatchewan and raised in Regina and Humboldt. He holds a Master of Arts degree in school psychology from the University of Wisconsin–Madison, and a PhD in education from the University of Regina. Raised in a Liberal family, he purchased his first membership in the party in 1957.
He has worked as a teacher, superintendent, career consultant and psychologist. At the time of the 1997 election, he was executive director of CANTRAIN Human Resources and a partner in Ab-Tech Professional Services. He has written several works on education, and is involved in a variety of aboriginal outreach programs.
Hengen was policy chair for the provincial Liberals in the mid-1990s, and worked with Lynda Haverstock to design the party's platform in 1993. Haverstock was forced to resign as leader in 1995, after a bitter caucus revolt. Hengen was considered a Haverstock ally at the time of the controversy, though sources indicate there was a subsequent falling-out.
Hengen campaigned to succeed Haverstock as party leader in 1996, promising to "take back Saskatchewan" from a period of economic decline. He was strongly identified with the right-wing of the Liberal Party, arguing in favour of a "free-enterprise government with a social conscience". His campaign highlighted various strategies for wealth creation, including an expansion of high-tech agricultural services and increased production of low-cost uranium energy. He also focused on aboriginal issues, promoting First Nations mentoring programs and a marketing strategy for First Nations' businesses. Hengen's supporters included Arlene Jule, a prominent Haverstock loyalist.
Hengen described his campaign as "policy-based" and "populist", and accused rival Jim Melenchuk of being the preferred choice of the party elite. He led on the first ballot of the leadership convention, but fell behind Melenchuk on the second and was defeated on the third.
He later campaigned for the federal Liberal party in Wanuskewin during the 1997 election. Again affiliated with the right-wing of the party, he supported the austerity measures of Finance Minister Paul Martin and promised to vote against the Canadian gun registry. He received 8,020 votes (24.43%), finishing third against Reform Party candidate Maurice Vellacott.
Shortly after the 1997 federal election, several members of the Saskatchewan Liberal Party joined with members of the Progressive Conservative Party to create the Saskatchewan Party as a right-wing alternative to the provincial New Democratic Party. Hengen joined the new party, and was appointed to chair its steering committee. His wife, Shelley Hengen, has campaigned for the Saskatchewan Party on two occasions.
Hengen has remained active with the aboriginal community in Saskatoon, and has participated in debates about aboriginal policies. He has argued that state planning and management have prevented First Nations communities from becoming economically self-sufficient, and has accused Indian and Northern Affairs Canada of ignoring First Nations concerns in education policy. Hengen has worked as a mental health therapist at Building A Nation, a community project which provides assistance to aboriginals who were abused at residential schools (30 November 2002).
He campaigned for a seat on Saskatoon public school board in 2003, and was listed at the time as the co-manager of a family wellness clinic and owner of a private vocational school. He finished second against rival candidate Lindsay Fast.
Hengen briefly returned to public prominence during the 2006 federal election. During a live television debate, a telephone caller falsely accused Conservative incumbent Maurice Vellacott of being forced to leave a church after being accused of sexual assault. Hengen later produced an affidavit in which he identified the caller as a campaign worker for another party.
Hengen was listed as 55 years old in 1996.
- Murray Mandryk, "Liberal race revolves round Hengen", Saskatoon Star-Phoenix, 25 October 1996, A4.
- Murray Mandryk and Russ Wyatt, "Out of the wilderness", Saskatoon Star-Phoenix, 2 November 1996, B2.
- Bonny Braden, "One in, one out of Liberal race", Saskatoon Star-Phoenix, 9 August 1996, A7.
- Canadian Broadcasting Corporation Riding Profile: Wanuswekin, 1997 election site. (This site is no longer available online).
- "Decisions reached in far places", Saskatoon Star-Phoenix, 9 September 1996, A4.
- Bonnie Braden, "One in, one out of Liberal race", Saskatoon Star-Phoenix, 9 August 1996, A7.
- Bonny Braden, "Liberal leadership candidate Arlene Jule ...", 9 October 1996, A7; Murray Mandryk, "Liberal race revolves round Hengen", Saskatoon Star-Phoenix, 25 October 1996, A4.
- Bonny Braden, "It's time Saskatchewan was...", Saskatoon Star-Phoenix, 24 September 1996, A2.
- Betty Ann Adam, "About 250 Liberals who...", Saskatoon Star-Phoenix, 2 October 1996, A6.
- Joanne Paulson, "Arlene Jule threw her...", Saskatoon Star-Phoenix, 10 October 1996, A8.
- Murray Lyons, "Disgruntled Reformer could help NDP, Grits in Wanuskewin riding", Saskatoon Star-Phoenix, 17 May 1997, A3.
- Bonny Braden, "Saskatchewan Party seeks opposition status", Saskatoon Star-Phoenix, 9 August 1997. A1.
- Tom Hengen, "Self-sufficiency, pride should motivate all people", Saskatoon Star-Phoenix, 23 January 1998, A4; Tom Hengen, "Reporter's treatment of Native education undermines progress", Saskatoon Star-Phoenix, 20 August 1999, A13.
- "Hengen seeks seat on public school board", Saskatoon Star-Phoenix, 4 October 2003, A!5.
- Lori Coolican, "Dump candidate over false accusations", National Post, 21 January 2006, A5.
- Bonny Braden, "One in, one out of Liberal race", Saskatoon Star-Phoenix, 9 August 1997, A7.