Calgary

Kent Hehr's new cabinet post might signal support for Calgary's Olympic aspirations, says prof

Calgary's lone cabinet minister has been shuffled out of the Veteran's Affairs portfolio, a demotion of sorts, but some say it's not necessarily a bad one.

Calgary's lone minister was shuffled into the sport and persons with disabilities portfolio Monday

Kent Hehr was moved from Veterans Affairs to the sport and persons with disabilities portfolio that was held by former Paralympic swimmer Carla Qualtrough. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

Calgary's lone cabinet minister Kent Hehr has been shuffled out of the Veteran's Affairs portfolio, a demotion of sorts, but some say it's not necessarily a bad one. 

"I think that he's still in cabinet indicates that the prime minister still has confidence in him and is hoping that putting him in a portfolio that has less challenges and controversies associated with it will give him room to show what he's made of, what his best abilities present." said Lori Williams, associate professor of policy studies at Mount Royal University. 

She said there are persistent problems at Veterans Affairs that Hehr was unable to overcome, but doesn't go so far as to lay blame at his feet. 

Olympic bid

Hehr is now the minister of sport and persons with disabilities, a fitting portfolio for a someone who was a promising athlete before being paralyzed in a random drive-by shooting. 

His interest in sports and his Calgary base have raised eyebrows regarding the city's interest in an Olympic bid. 

"Because there may be an Olympic bid in the offing and having somebody from Calgary in that portfolio does make sense, and it might even be signalling, at this stage, support for Calgary and its aspirations," said Williams. 

Murray Sigler, the CEO of Sport Calgary — a non-profit that promotes amateur sports in the city, is excited by Monday's announcement. 

He said Hehr understands both the city and amateur sports. 

Infrastructure questions

"Calgary's got a lot of important issues it's facing now in regard to sport infrastructure," said Sigler. 

"We've got issues around whether we should make an Olympic bid, what level of funding may or may not be there for a fieldhouse or an event centre. Federal infrastructure funding, or federal funding support will be essential for any of these initiatives to move forward."

Sigler said he's confident that no matter the outcome of those issues, Calgary's arguments will be heard at the cabinet table. 

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