Sport minister recalls ’88 Games in Calgary
Wednesday, August 30, 2017
An 18-year-old Kent Hehr was playing on a rotten hockey team in Saskatchewan when his hometown of Calgary was the host city of the 1988 Winter Olympics.
Canada’s new minister of sport remembers a feeling of missing out as his sister figure skated in the opening and closing ceremonies.
“I was playing junior hockey in Lloydminster, for the Lloydminster Lancers,” Hehr said. “It may have been the worst team in the history of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League.
“I remember watching from afar and thinking ‘I love playing hockey, but I kind of wish I was home for a couple days.’”
The Calgarian has been appointed the next Minister of Sport at the same time his hometown is mulling another Winter Games bid. Calgary mayor Naheed Nenshi has repeatedly said a bid for the 2026 Olympic and Paralympic Games can’t go ahead without federal government support.
While it’s tempting to connect the dots, Hehr wasn’t ready to weigh in on an Olympic bid on his second day in his new job.
“Calgary city council is looking at that,” he said Tuesday. “Calgarians have to look at this and the province does.
“At this time, it would be prejudging the situation. In my view, I need to concentrate on my file and interact with this issue in an objective fashion as the city completes its process.”
Hehr takes over the dual role of sports minister and Minister of Persons with Disabilities from former Paralympic swimmer Carla Qualtrough, who was handed the department of public works in Monday’s federal cabinet shuffle.
The 47-year-old Hehr is a former junior and college hockey player rendered a quadriplegic in 1991 when he was stuck by a bullet in a drive-by shooting in Calgary. Paralyzed from the chest down, Hehr uses a wheelchair.