<a href="https://calgaryherald.com/news/politics/election-2019/im-going-to-miss-this-job-hehr-reflects-on-political-career-following-defeat" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">'I’m going to miss this job': Hehr reflects on political career following defeat</a>  <font color="#6f6f6f">Calgary Herald</font>

Kent Hehr and his wife Deanna during his speech at the Palace Theatre in Calgary on Monday, October 21, 2019. Darren Makowichuk / Postmedia

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Former Calgary Centre MP Kent Hehr addressed his defeat to Conservative Greg McLean in Monday’s federal election, citing pipeline delays and voters’ yearning for the days of old as factors that led to the result in the downtown riding.

McLean took nearly 57 per cent of the vote in what was billed as Calgary’s most competitive race, more than doubling his Liberal opponent’s vote share.

“There was no more we could do. We worked as hard as we could and came up short,” Hehr said Tuesday.

He said Calgary “is going through a state of transition.”

“I think there’s a longing to somehow turn the clock back to 2014 when oil was at $100/barrel and the United States needed every drop of oil we produced,” Hehr said. “I think the delay in the Trans Mountain pipeline, that didn’t help. At the end of the day, the voters spoke.”

The 49-year-old said he’ll now spend more time with his wife, reconnect with old friends and watch his nephews play hockey — things he lacked time for as a politician — after serving the public for the past 12 years.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau greets former MP Kent Hehr during Hehr’s annual Stampede breakfast at the Sunalta Community Centre in Calgary on Saturday July 7, 2018. Darren Makowichuk / Postmedia

Hehr represented Calgary-Buffalo for the provincial Liberals from 2008 to 2015 before making the jump to federal politics.

He described it as a “calling,” not merely a job.

“I’ve given my heart and my soul to this job and I have enjoyed every single minute of it, but there’s lots in this world to do,” he said.

It’s too early to say if he’d run for office again, but Hehr said he could see himself being part of movements that seek “to ensure Calgary’s best days are still ahead.”

“Being a Liberal politician in this city, to succeed, you have to work exceedingly hard and I don’t regret one minute of that, but let’s be clear, it takes focus, it took effort and I missed out on a few things,” he said.

Hehr’s career in office was at times rocky, including accusations of sexual harassment and of making insensitive remarks toward thalidomide survivors.

Amid the sexual harassment allegations, Hehr resigned from Justin Trudeau’s cabinet in 2018.

He served as Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence in Trudeau’s first cabinet and later Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities after a 2017 shuffle.

“I have regrets, but too few to mention,” Hehr said. “I want to be remembered as a guy who tried extraordinarily hard to be the best representative he could, despite the challenges that faced me, whatever the situation was.”

His proudest moment came in 2014, when as an MLA he introduced Motion 503, which proposed mandatory support for all gay-straight alliances that were initiated by students.

The motion ultimately fell as government MLAs and Wildrose members voted against it, but the legislature would later pass a similar bill enshrining protections for LGBTQ youth and mandating GSAs in any school where students wanted them.

“As a person with a disability, I always hated it when people were judging me on arbitrary characteristics; the fact that I was in a wheelchair,” said Hehr. “I hated the fact that people were judging people who were gay as a result of the fact of who they loved. That is what moved Motion 503 to the legislature floor.”

Kent Hehr gets a hug from a campaign volunteer shortly after arriving at his campaign headquarters during the 2008 provincial election. Dean Bicknell / Calgary Herald

Alberta Liberal leader David Khan said he appreciated Hehr’s advocacy as a member of the LGBTQ community.

“He’s always been very active on that scene and a real leader, and not just with rhetoric, but with actual actions,” said Khan.

“I think it’s devastating, really, that we won’t have any Liberal MPs in government (from Alberta). Kent was a real force to be reckoned with.”

Hehr, who helped end a nearly 50-year shutout of the federal Liberal party in Calgary four years ago, said he’s confident Calgary remains a progressive city where Liberal candidates can win again.

“I feel very grateful for the opportunity to have been a politician, a Liberal politician, in this city for the last 12 years. I got to share my life with people, work with them on complex problems, take their voice to both Edmonton and Ottawa,” he said.

“I’m going to miss this job.”

Twitter: @SammyHudes