Minister of Veterans Affairs, Member of Parliament Calgary Centre
Kent J. Hehr was born and raised in Calgary. Kent’s mom worked as a school principal and his father as the president of the Alberta Teachers’ Association, making education and public service part of the fabric of everyday life. Kent took an early interest in sports, especially hockey, with an eye to a career as a phys-ed teacher. In 1989-90 he played with the Calgary Canucks and helped win the Alberta Junior Hockey League Championship. The following year he attended Mount Royal College and played with the Cougars, his stick-handling getting better and better.
Then Kent’s life changed forever. In October 1991, while riding in a friend’s car, Kent was hit by a drive-by shooter. The injury left him paralyzed. He would never walk again.
Like thousands of Canadians with life-altering spinal cord injuries, Kent’s path changed, but his pace didn’t. In fact, if anything, it quickened. While still re-learning to use his fingers, Kent studied at the University of Calgary, and received a Bachelor of Canadian Studies followed by a Bachelor of Law in 2001. In recognition of his abilities, commitment and early impact on the community, the university named Kent its Graduate of the Decade, and one of the 40 top graduates over the last 40 years.
Kent practiced law at the prestigious national firm, Fraser Milner Casgrain (now Dentons), and became an active community leader, working with the United Way and heading the Alberta branch of the Canadian Paraplegic Association.
In 2006, he was named Top 40 Under 40 by Calgary Inc. Magazine, and in 2008 Kent was named one of the Calgary Herald’s 20 Most Compelling Calgarians to Watch. Later that year he won the race to represent Calgary-Buffalo in the Alberta Legislature, a seat he successfully defended in 2012. In 2015 he was successful in a run to become the Member of Parliament for Calgary Centre. He now proudly serves as the Minister for Veterans Affairs and as the Associate Minister of National Defence – and as the first Liberal from Calgary to sit in Cabinet since 1972.
Kent earned a reputation as one of Alberta’s hardest working MLAs. As shadow minister of justice, finance, education and other portfolios, Kent not only held the government to account but also took an active role in creating legislation for Calgary and Alberta’s future. Among many other things, Kent has fought for better management of the province’s budget and natural resources, sufficient funding for public education, and equal rights for LGBTQ community members. He has become one of the most recognizable faces in Calgary. When not on the campaign trail or spending time with his nephews and partner, Deanna, Kent can often be found at local restaurants and pubs, sharing food and a drink with his beloved constituents.