Kent Hehr

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The Honourable
Kent Hehr
PC MP
Kent-downtown cropped.png
Minister of Veterans Affairs
Assumed office
November 4, 2015
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
Preceded by Erin O'Toole
Associate Minister of National Defence
Assumed office
November 4, 2015
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
Preceded by Julian Fantino
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 46)
Calgary, Alberta[1]
Political party Liberal Party of Canada
Alma mater University of Calgary
Profession Lawyer
Website KentHehr.ca

Kent Hehr PC MP (born December 16, 1969)[1] is a lawyer, community leader and Liberal Member of Parliament for the riding of Calgary Centre after winning in the 2015 Canadian general elections.[2] Hehr was named Minister of Veterans Affairs in the federal Cabinet, headed by Justin Trudeau, on November 4, 2015. 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.[3] He was the Member of the Legislative Assembly of Alberta for Calgary-Buffalo from 2008 to 2015.[4]

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 paraplegic.[5] 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.[6]

Hehr has also been active in numerous community groups within Calgary. He has served on the following boards in the past few years:[7]

  • National Education Association of Disabled Students, president
  • Calgary Advisory Committee on Accessibility, chair
  • Canadian Paraplegic Association (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.[8] It was the first time the Alberta Liberals had had a contested nomination in Calgary since 1998.[8] He was subsequently elected to the legislature in the March 3, 2008 general election.[4]

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.[9] As the Shadow Minister, Hehr has been working to tackle crime in the province while focusing on other justice issues.

In the legislature, Hehr serves on the following committees:[10]

  • 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.[11]

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.[12] 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.[13]

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.[14]

Hehr has been putting 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.[15]

Hehr’s most recent call has been to give police the power to seize vehicles that contain unregistered firearms, along with the gun.[14] Bill 201 was defeated in second reading March 9, 2009 with no Conservative MLA support.[16]

Federal politics[edit]

Candidacy[edit]

On July 17, 2014, following some speculation, Hehr announced he would seek the federal Liberal nomination in Calgary Centre.[17][18] On November 28, he was acclaimed as the Liberal candidate. 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.[2]

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]

Electoral record[edit]

Canadian federal election, 2015: Calgary Centre
Party Candidate Votes % ∆% Expenditures
Liberal Kent Hehr 28,496 46.5% +27.38
Conservative Joan Crockatt 27,746 45.3% -10.07
New Democratic Jillian Ratti 3,412 5.6% -9.56
Green Thana Boonlert 1347 2.2% -8.13
Independent Yogi Henderson 248 0.4
Total valid votes/Expense limit 61,249 100.0     $221,059.99
Total rejected ballots 227
Turnout 61,476 72.35
Eligible voters 84,960
Source: Elections Canada[20][21]
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. 
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%

[22] [23]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b http://www.kenthehr.ca/index.php?a=bio
  2. ^ a b http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/kent-hehr-named-federal-liberal-candidate-for-calgary-centre-1.2854798
  3. ^ http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/full-list-of-justin-trudeau-s-cabinet-1.3300699
  4. ^ a b "Conservatives' Calgary fortress resists change". CBC News. 2008-03-03. Retrieved 2015-09-03. 
  5. ^ "Hehr bares 'bullet' ads". CBC News. 2010-09-17. Retrieved 2016-01-13. 
  6. ^ Mingo, Rita (2008-01-01). "20 Compelling Calgarians / Injury led lawyer to new rewards". Calgary Herald. Retrieved 2008-03-03. 
  7. ^ "MLA for Calgary-Buffalo". Alberta Legislature. Retrieved 2008-08-27. 
  8. ^ a b "Liberals select lawyer as Calgary-Buffalo candidate". CBC News. 2006-06-20. Retrieved 2015-09-03. 
  9. ^ "Kent Hehr, Calgary-Buffalo". Alberta Liberal Caucus. Retrieved 2008-08-27. 
  10. ^ "Alberta Hansard". Alberta Liberal Caucus. 2008-06-06. Retrieved 2008-08-27. 
  11. ^ "Crowded race for Calgary mayor". CBC News. 2010-09-20. Retrieved 2015-09-03. 
  12. ^ http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/gay-straight-alliance-bill-for-schools-voted-down-in-alberta/article17871798/
  13. ^ http://www.edmontonjournal.com/Critics+slam+Wildrose+after+straight+alliance+motion+voted+down/9716088/story.html
  14. ^ a b "CTV Calgary". CTV Calgary. 2008-07-24. Retrieved 2008-08-27. 
  15. ^ "Edmonton Journal". Edmonton Journal. 2008-07-24. Retrieved 2008-08-27. 
  16. ^ Alberta Hansard March 9, 2009, 286
  17. ^ http://www.calgarysun.com/2014/07/05/a-federal-liberal-named-trudeau-treated-like-a-rock-star-in-the-heart-of-conservative-country
  18. ^ http://www.calgaryherald.com/Kent+Hehr+seek+federal+liberal+nomination+Calgary+Centre/10038440/story.html
  19. ^ "Full list of Justin Trudeau's cabinet". CBC News. 
  20. ^ Elections Canada – Confirmed candidates for Calgary Centre, 30 September 2015
  21. ^ Elections Canada – Preliminary Election Expenses Limits for Candidates
  22. ^ http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/calgary-centre-election-results-and-riding-info-1.3275852
  23. ^ http://www.cbc.ca/news2/interactives/results-2015/

External links[edit]