Kent Hehr

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The Honourable
Kent Hehr
PC MP
David Shulkin with Kent Hehr (cropped).jpg
Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities
In office
August 28, 2017 – January 25, 2018
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
Preceded by Carla Qualtrough
Succeeded by Kirsty Duncan
Minister of Veterans Affairs
In office
November 4, 2015 – August 28, 2017
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
Preceded by Erin O'Toole
Succeeded by Seamus O'Regan
Associate Minister of National Defence
In office
November 4, 2015 – August 28, 2017
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
Preceded by Julian Fantino
Succeeded by Seamus O'Regan
Member of the Canadian Parliament
for Calgary Centre
Assumed office
October 19, 2015
Preceded by Joan Crockatt
Member of the Legislative Assembly of Alberta for Calgary-Buffalo
In office
March 3, 2008 – May 5, 2015
Preceded by Harvey Cenaiko
Succeeded by Kathleen Ganley
Personal details
Born (1969-12-16) December 16, 1969 (age 48)
Calgary, Alberta, Canada[1]
Political party Liberal Party of Canada
Alma mater University of Calgary
Profession Lawyer
Website www.kenthehr.ca

Kent Hehr PC MP (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. He 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 from 2008 to 2015.[2][3] Before politics, Hehr worked as a disability activist and a lawyer.

Personal life[edit]

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 and became quadriplegic.[4] 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.[5]

Hehr has also been active in numerous community groups within Calgary. He has served on the following boards in the past few years:[6]

  • National Education Association of Disabled Students, president
  • Calgary Advisory Committee on Accessibility, chair
  • Spinal Cord Injury Alberta, chair
  • Calgary Downtown West Community Association
  • United Way of Calgary Leaders Committee
  • Calgary Canuck Alumni Association

Provincial politics[edit]

In June 2006, Hehr won the Calgary-Buffalo Liberal nomination in a contest with Keith Purdy, a gay rights activist.[7] It was the first time the Alberta Liberals had had a contested nomination in Calgary since 1998.[7] He was subsequently elected to the legislature in the March 3, 2008 general election.[3]

Kent Hehr and David Swann at the Calgary Stampede

After the election, Hehr was chosen to be the Shadow Minister for Justice and Solicitor General for the Alberta Liberal Caucus.[8] 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:[9]

  • Special Standing Committee on Member Services
  • Standing Committee on Community Services (deputy chair)
  • Standing Committee on Resource and Environment

Hehr campaigned for mayor in the 2010 Calgary municipal election but withdrew a month before the vote to endorse Naheed Nenshi.[10]

LGBT rights[edit]

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.[11] 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.[12]

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. The PCs were met with an outraged public who could not understand why Gay-Straight Alliances should not be made available in all schools where students wanted them. Ultimately the PCs brought in a reformed bill that effectively allowed Gay-Straight Alliances in all schools throughout the province.

Further, because of Hehr and Blakeman's work, the PCs in their bill also reversed Section 11.1 of the Human Rights Act which was brought in 2008 by then Premier Ed Stelmach. Sec.11.1 was seen by the LGBTQ community as an affront to their personal dignity. In the interim, sensing public opinion has changed on sexual minority rights in the province, the PCs also removed their opposition to same-sex marriage in Alberta's marriage legislation. Ultimately Hehr's motion 503 created an environment where Alberta became more open and accepting of LGBTQ rights.

Gun violence[edit]

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.[13]

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.[14]

Hehr's most recent call was to give police the power to seize vehicles that contain unregistered firearms, along with the gun.[13] Bill 201 was defeated in second reading on March 9, 2009, with no Conservative MLA support.[15]

Federal politics[edit]

Hehr at the 2015 Halifax International Security Forum

Candidacy[edit]

On July 17, 2014, following some speculation, Hehr announced he would seek the federal Liberal nomination in Calgary Centre.[16][17] On November 28, he was acclaimed as the Liberal candidate.[18] Hehr won the Calgary Centre riding from Conservative Joan Crockatt in the 2015 federal election on October 19, 2015. He and colleague Darshan Kang of the newly created Calgary Skyview riding became the first Liberals elected in Calgary since Pat Mahoney in 1968.[18]

Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence[edit]

Hehr was appointed Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence in Justin Trudeau's first cabinet on November 4, 2015.[19]

Part of his mandate letter by the prime minister, he was mandated to reopen the nine veterans affairs offices closed by the conservative government, restore lifelong pensions for injured veterans, increase the value of the disability award, expand access to the permanent impairment allowance, create a veterans education benefit and more.[20]

When Hehr left the portfolio, four Liberal Election promises involving veterans were designated as "Broken" by the non-partisan collaborative citizen initiative Trudeau Meter.[21]

Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities[edit]

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]

The move was considered a demotion by political observers for not living up to his responsibilities. [24]

Controversies[edit]

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.[25]

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." [26]

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 claimed 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?'"[27], and when asked about support for her family he responded "you married him, he's your responsibility" [28]

Hehr resigned from cabinet on January 25, 2018, amid allegations of sexual harassment.[2]

Electoral record[edit]

Federal[edit]

Canadian federal election, 2015: 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[29][30]

Provincial[edit]

Alberta general election, 2012: Calgary-Buffalo
Party Candidate Votes %
Liberal Kent Hehr 4,744 42.02%
Progressive Conservative Jamie Lall 3,505 30.61%
Wildrose Mike Blanchard 2,413 20.31%
New Democratic Rebecca Eras 541 4.95%
Alberta Party Cory Mack 230 2.11%
Total / Turnout 11,433 50.37%
Alberta general election, 2008: 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 Grochowski 158 1.69% 0.75%
Total 9,385
Rejected, spoiled, and declined 218
Eligible electors / Turnout 35,122 27.35%
Liberal gain from Progressive Conservative Swing 8.55%
Source: The Report on the March 3, 2008 Provincial General Election of the Twenty-seventh Legislative Assembly. Elections Alberta. July 28, 2008. pp. 178–180. 

[31] [32]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b http://www.kenthehr.ca/index.php?a=bio
  2. ^ a b "Kent Hehr resigns from Liberal cabinet over sexual harassment allegations". Global News. Retrieved 2018-01-25. 
  3. ^ a b "Conservatives' Calgary fortress resists change". CBC News. 2008-03-03. Retrieved 2015-09-03. 
  4. ^ Fekete, Jason. "Kent Hehr overcomes enormous personal and political obstacles to become Calgary Liberal MP". Ottawa Citizen. Ottawa Citizen. Retrieved 26 August 2016. 
  5. ^ 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. 
  6. ^ "MLA for Calgary-Buffalo". Alberta Legislature. Retrieved 2008-08-27. 
  7. ^ a b "Liberals select lawyer as Calgary-Buffalo candidate". CBC News. 2006-06-20. Retrieved 2015-09-03. 
  8. ^ "Kent Hehr, Calgary-Buffalo". Alberta Liberal Caucus. Archived from the original on 2009-01-31. Retrieved 2008-08-27. 
  9. ^ "Alberta Hansard". Alberta Liberal Caucus. 2008-06-06. Retrieved 2008-08-27. [permanent dead link]
  10. ^ "Crowded race for Calgary mayor". CBC News. 2010-09-20. Retrieved 2015-09-03. 
  11. ^ https://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/gay-straight-alliance-bill-for-schools-voted-down-in-alberta/article17871798/
  12. ^ http://www.edmontonjournal.com/Critics+slam+Wildrose+after+straight+alliance+motion+voted+down/9716088/story.html
  13. ^ a b "CTV Calgary". CTV Calgary. 2008-07-24. Retrieved 2008-08-27. 
  14. ^ "Edmonton Journal". Edmonton Journal. 2008-07-24. Archived from the original on 2008-08-30. Retrieved 2008-08-27. 
  15. ^ Alberta Hansard March 9, 2009, 286
  16. ^ http://www.calgarysun.com/2014/07/05/a-federal-liberal-named-trudeau-treated-like-a-rock-star-in-the-heart-of-conservative-country
  17. ^ http://www.calgaryherald.com/Kent+Hehr+seek+federal+liberal+nomination+Calgary+Centre/10038440/story.html
  18. ^ a b http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/kent-hehr-named-federal-liberal-candidate-for-calgary-centre-1.2854798
  19. ^ "Full list of Justin Trudeau's cabinet". CBC News. 
  20. ^ http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/full-list-of-justin-trudeau-s-cabinet-1.3300699
  21. ^ https://trudeaumetre.polimeter.org/
  22. ^ https://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2017/08/28/seamus-oregan-to-be-named-veterans-minister-as-trudeau-shuffles-cabinet.html
  23. ^ http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/federal-trudeau-cabinet-shuffle-bios-photos-who-1.4265394
  24. ^ https://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/trudeaus-shuffle-reveals-two-truths-about-liberal-cabinet/article36101146/
  25. ^ http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/preliminary-ethics-inquiry-launched-kent-hehr-1.4386795
  26. ^ https://www.thestar.com/opinion/star-columnists/2017/12/07/wanted-a-disabilities-minister-sensitive-to-the-needs-of-others.html
  27. ^ https://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2017/12/07/disabilities-minister-kent-hehr-apologizes-for-condescending-remark-to-calgary-mom.html
  28. ^ https://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2017/12/12/how-many-political-lives-does-kent-hehr-have.html
  29. ^ "October 19, 2015 Election Results — Calgary Centre (Validated results)". Elections Canada. 21 October 2015. Retrieved 4 November 2015. 
  30. ^ Elections Canada – Preliminary Election Expenses Limits for Candidates
  31. ^ http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/calgary-centre-election-results-and-riding-info-1.3275852
  32. ^ http://www.cbc.ca/news2/interactives/results-2015/

External links[edit]

29th Ministry – Cabinet of Justin Trudeau
Cabinet posts (3)
Predecessor Office Successor
Carla Qualtrough Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities
August 28, 2017 – January 25, 2018
Kirsty Duncan
Erin O'Toole Minister of Veterans Affairs
November 4, 2015 – August 28, 2017
Seamus O'Regan
Julian Fantino Associate Minister of Defence
November 4, 2015 – August 28, 2017
Seamus O'Regan