EDITOR’S NOTE: This story originally stated Hehr was kicked out of cabinet over sexual harassment allegations. However, Hehr withdrew voluntarily, an investigation was completed and no action was taken against him. Global News regrets the error.
Another well-known name is about to enter Calgary’s mayoral race.
Kent Hehr’s campaign team confirms to Global News the former Liberal MP and longtime Alberta MLA will file papers at Calgary City Hall Tuesday morning.
Hehr, who was elected to Calgary Centre in 2015, resigned from cabinet in 2018 over sexual harassment allegations but stayed on as MP. He was defeated in the 2019 federal election.
Two women came forward with separate allegations. One claimed he’d made sexually suggestive remarks to her, while another claimed he’d touched her inappropriately.
In 2018, Hehr apologized to the first woman, even though he said he didn’t remember meeting her, but called the second claim “unintentional contact.”
At the time of the allegations, a third party investigation was completed and no action was taken against Hehr.
Hehr has also been accused of making controversial remarks. In 2017, members of a group of thalidomide survivors accused him of belittling them with insulting and degrading remarks during a face-to-face meeting.
Hehr said he’s been on a “deep, personal journey” over the last three years.
“I’ve understood the unfairness of societal structures stacked against women and girls. And I believe the mayor and, in fact, all politicians need to work each and every day to break down those barriers and that is what I will do.”
“Workplace respect is something we should all be concerned about. Distance and time have put perspective on the complaint,” Hehr added. “I would encourage people to go out, google my name, read about the account and decide for themselves.”
Hehr planned to run for Calgary mayor in 2010 but said he stepped aside when polls showed he was trailing behind current mayor Naheed Nenshi.
He said he wants to create a more dynamic, connected and fair city.
Community advocate and policy expert Jason Ribeiro calls Hehr’s decision an unusual move, saying it’s a big leap from federal to municipal politics.
“It’s harder to translate some of his big policy advocacy at a federal level or a national level around things like sport and disabilities and civil rights to something like non-residential property taxes, garbage collection, some of the bread and butter issues that most of the polling shows matters to Calgarians.”
As for the harassment allegations, Ribeiro said “there is no channel change on that conversation” and Hehr will need to directly address those, adding it’s something that hinders a future in public life.
“The ability to address these allegations head-on make, a very clear statement from his perspective on what did happen and what did not and how he squares that with his politics on civil rights and potentially even tactically his voters is something that will need to be addressed.”
Twenty-seven people have thrown their hat in the ring in the mayoral race so far.
Calgarians will vote on Oct. 18.