Kent Hehr acknowledges he can be 'brash and insensitive' but believes he still belongs in cabinet
MP for Calgary Centre says he maintains an 'excellent working relationship' with the prime minister
Kent Hehr acknowledges he can be "brash and insensitive" at times but doesn't believe that should disqualify him from his job as the federal minister of sport and persons with disabilities.
Numerous Canadians have come forward publicly in recent weeks to say they were insulted, offended or otherwise treated rudely during meetings with Hehr.
The Liberal MP for Calgary Centre — who became a quadriplegic at age 21 after being struck by a bullet as a bystander in a drive-by shooting — said Friday his disability hasn't impacted his empathy one way or another when he's speaking with others who are struggling with disabilities of their own.
Rather, he attributed the series of offensive interactions to his personal communication style and the volume of people he meets across Canada.
"I do pride myself on taking many, many meetings," Hehr told CBC News in Calgary.
"I do pride myself on being direct and trying to be solution-oriented. But I know this can come across as brash and insensitive. And that's where I need to work on myself to understand that I need to lean in and understand that people need an empathetic ear."
Hehr said he's learned from the mistakes in the previous meetings and continues to work on his demeanour.
The reason he got into politics, he added, "was to assist people to build their lives," and he wants to continue doing that as a member of the federal cabinet.
And he still he believes his job is safe, in spite of the recent controversy.
"I believe that the prime minister and I have an excellent working relationship," Hehr said.
With files from Rob Brown