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Former Liberal cabinet minister Hehr reflects on his role in #MeToo movement

“I have taken pause every day since to reflect not just on the accusations, but how I have lived my life,” Kent Hehr wrote.

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Kent Hehr, a former Liberal cabinet minister from Calgary booted from the caucus after sexual harassment allegations, is reflecting on his role in the #MeToo movement.

Hehr was first elected as an MP in the riding of Calgary Centre in 2015. He held two cabinet positions but resigned in 2018 after allegations of misconduct arose from when he worked in the Alberta legislature as an MLA for Calgary Buffalo.

 On June 6, 2018, following the completion of an internal investigation, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau decided that Hehr would not return to cabinet.

“More than two years have passed since I faced the #MeToo accusations that led to me resigning from Cabinet. While it has been a whirlwind, I have taken pause every day since to reflect not just on the accusations, but how I have lived my life,” Hehr wrote in a blog posted Thursday titled “#MeToo: What I’ve Learned”

Kent Hehr

“This came into sharp focus a month ago when the woman who accused me of sexual harassment in 2018 apologized for making libellous statements about Canadian public figure Warren Kinsella, She falsely claimed that he had abused women and hit his wife, and was forced to retract these statement.

“When I read this, my mind immediately went to the classic Clint Eastwood film, Unforgiven. My favourite scene is when Eastwood’s character, an aging outlaw killer, stands above the corrupt sheriff who pleads, “I don’t deserve this, to die like this. I was building a house.” Eastwood’s character replies, “Deserve’s got nothing to do with it.

“I stand by what I wrote to Canadians in the spring of 2018. The same woman who accused Kinsella alleged, when I was an MLA twelve years ago and she worked at the legislature, that I had called her “yummy” in an elevator. I did not, and do not, recall ever meeting her. I certainly don’t recall ever saying “yummy” to her (or to anyone, for that matter).

“The important question for me is whether I could become a better person from the #MeToo movement. The answer has proven to be yes. I used to think that I could call myself a feminist simply because I was a progressive. I thought it was enough that I believed in equal pay for equal work, a woman’s right to choose, and national daycare. I thought it was enough that I ran in elections under the Liberal banner, as a champion of women’s liberation and gender equality.

“But it was not enough, not even close.

“The truth is: I have acted inappropriately at times in my life—sometimes inadvertently, sometimes by choice. I grew up playing hockey, and if there was ever a place for toxic masculinity to fester it was in the dressing room. Everything centred around sex; it was far from healthy or respectful, and I willingly took part. I spent more than my fair share of time sitting around a pub table where improper conversations about women were commonplace.

“I didn’t see, or try to see, the inherent harm in what I thought was harmless banter. This was wrong. Even as an elected politician, I could revel in a bad joke with friends, colleagues and my own staff. I realize now more than ever that this was also wrong. I take personal responsibility, and what I stated in 2018 doesn’t just stand: it takes on new meaning for me every day.

“Here’s another quote I love from Unforgiven. The Schofield Kid says, “Yeah…well, I guess they had it comin’.” Eastwood’s character replies, “We all have it comin’, kid.” I agree: sometimes we do have it coming, whether we deserve it or not.

“At 50, there are more days behind me than ahead. I’ve learned during my time rolling this earth that, while “deserve” may have nothing to do with it, forgiveness does. I hope to be forgiven and I want to forgive others as well.”

Hehr lost his seat in the 2019 election.

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard

dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com

TWITTER: Twitter.com/nobby7694

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard. He has served as the City Editor of the Calgary Sun and has covered Alberta news for nearly 40 years. dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com

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Popular Calgary mural to be painted over by new BLM one

A mural called Giving Wings to the Dream, done in 1995, has graced the outside of the downtown CUPS building.

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One of the most popular pieces of public art in Calgary for the last 25 year is about to be covered up by a new Black Lives Matter mural.

A mural called Giving Wings to the Dream, done by Calgary artist Doug Driediger in 1995, has graced the outside of the downtown Calgary Urban Project Society (CUPS) building.

But after city council approved more than $120,000 for four BLM murals in Calgary, Driediger’s mural will be painted over.

“(I have) an unease over the idea that something that’s valid and vital would be covered by another artist’s work,” Driediger told Global News.

“Surely there should be some professional respect for work that exists, so that just leaves me a little concerned.”

Driediger said he supports creating Black Lives Matter murals, but added there are plenty of other sites that could be used.

 “I cautioned the organizers, you know, you might get a bit of backlash by removing something that is so well-liked, even with an excellent alternative going up there,” he said.

But a Black community activist said the new mural would have widespread benefits.

“It’s a great effort by the city and a great step toward showing representation of the variety of Calgarians who live in the city,” activist Daudi Kawooya told Global.

“When you look at Calgary murals, not so many visible ethnic groups have a chance to identify with themselves, so once they start seeing themselves, the next question is going to be can they see themselves in leadership positions, can they see themselves in the local office, which is a great way to start conversations and it’s very important.”

The city wants the murals done by the end of September. Artists have until Aug. 17 to submit their proposals.

…MORE TO COME

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard

dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com

Twitter.com/nobby7694

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Survey: Albertans least happiest in Canada with how their province has handled COVID-19

In a Leger survey, only 59 per cent of Albertans said they were happy with how Jason Kenney’s UCP government has handled the pandemic.

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Albertans are the least happiest in Canada when it comes to how well they think their province has handled the COVID-19 pandemic.

And it’s not even close.

In a Leger survey of 1,513 people between Aug. 5-9, only 59 per cent of Albertans said they were happy with how Jason Kenney’s UCP government has handled the pandemic.

The next area with least support for their province’s actions was Manitoba/Saskatchewan at 66 per cent support.

Leger poll

People in B.C. were generally happy with 79 per cent saying they were happy with the government’s response.

In Ontario, 80 per cent voice their support and Quebec’s government received 84 per cent.

People in Atlantic Canada were happiest at 85%.

Canadians as a whole were exceedingly happy with the actions of the federal government with an approval rating of 78 per cent, with only 19% unhappy.

…MORE TO COME

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard

dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com

Twitter.com/nobby7694

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Phillips appeals decision not to fire cops who followed her

The appeal said the decision “fail(ed) to recognize the severity” of the two officers’ actions.

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Shannon Phillips, who as Alberta environment minister was watched and followed by members of the Lethbridge city police, is appealing a decision not to fire the officers involved.

The appeal, sent by Phillips’ lawyer, Michael Bates, to the Law Enforcement Review Board last week, said the decision “fail(ed) to recognize the severity” of the two officers’ actions.

It said targeting a cabinet minister for “personal political reasons,” should be enough to prove that neither is fit to be a police officer.

“I think public confidence in law enforcement was severely shaken in Lethbridge, and in fact across the province with the revelations of what happened,” the Lethbridge West MLA told the Star.

“I also think the public had a lot of questions about whether justice was seen to be done in this instance.”

Phillips had a Good Friday 2017 meeting with stakeholders involved in the Castle Mountain wilderness area.

As Environment Minister, Phillips made a controversial decision to limit access to the area, including the use of quads.

Sgt. Jason Carrier and Const. Keon Woronuk both had an interest in quadding.

Carrier was on-duty but on a meal break with two other officers when Phillips entered the Chef Stella Diner to meet informally with stakeholders, said a decision paper issued July 9 after an LPS internal investigation.

The decision said Carrier texted the acting sergeant Woronuk that Phillips was at the restaurant and sent him a photo. Woronuk arrived at the diner a short time later.

Woronuk also set up surveillance and subsequently following one of the stakeholders while running a police information check on them.

Woronuk found a nearby position of surveillance of the diner and Carrier took position at nearby parkade with a view of the diner, according to agreed facts entered at the hearing. Phillips eventually left the diner on foot.

“The intent of Const. (Keon) Woronuk to target an attendee of Minister Phillips’ meeting is truly troubling,” stated the hearing’s presiding officer Paul Manuel, a former Calgary Police Service inspector.

Woronuk later posted photos of the meeting on a Facebook page under the name “Mike Corps” which included identifying the stakeholders and, “was accompanied by a long caption criticizing Minister Phillips and her NDP government,” CHAT reported.

Phillips and NDP justice critic Kathleen Ganley called on Alberta Justice Minister Doug Schweitzer to order an independent, out of province investigation. Phillips said the investigation is needed to see if the corruption is “more broad” within the LPS.

Schweitzer called in the Alberta police watchdog, ASIRT to investigate.

Woronuk, a 19-year veteran, admitted to five charges under the Police Service Regulation including two counts of corrupt practice and a single count each of deceit, discreditable conduct and insubordination.

He was demoted from senior constable to first-class constable for two years.

Carrier, a 23-year veteran, admitted to discreditable conduct and neglect of duty and was demoted to senior constable for one year.

At the time, Phillips took issue with demotions being the outcome.

“That they can still drive by my house is not an acceptable penalty,” she said.

“I don’t feel safe…these people are still driving around in cruisers, who made a plan to follow me for political purposes.

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard

dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com

Twitter.com/nobby7694

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