Weeks after declaring his candidacy for mayor of Calgary, former MP and MLA Kent Hehr says he's dropping out of the race.
"I began feeling ill on Sunday morning. I got a COVID test and have not received the results yet. But I immediately suspended all campaign activities," Hehr said in an emailed statement.
"What further complicates things is that people with spinal cord injuries are a higher risk for COVID complications. Although I am double vaccinated, given the number of people with the Delta variant in Alberta and the ICUs being at or near capacity, the risks to my health are compounded."
Today is the last day to withdraw a candidacy for mayor or councillor for the Oct. 18 civic election.
Hehr said he remained committed to the ideas he presented in his platform, including constraints on urban sprawl, progressive taxation that asks for more from wealthy Calgarians, fare-free transit and more help for the chronically homeless.
"For the $300 million we are spending on a new arena for the owners of the Calgary Flames, we could have been well on our way to assisting our most vulnerable citizens to rebuild their lives," he wrote.
Hehr entered the race on Sept. 6, positioning himself as the progressive mayoral candidate, but his announcement was not without controversy.
Hehr left the Liberal cabinet under Justin Trudeau in 2018 amid allegations of sexual harassment.
An employee of another Liberal MP's constituency office told CBC in 2018 that she was groped by Hehr at a caucus party two years earlier, and a former Alberta legislature staffer, Kristin Raworth, accused Hehr of making sexually inappropriate comments toward her during his time as an MLA more than a decade ago.
Hehr apologized for "unintentionally" putting people in uncomfortable situations and said he has learned his conversational style must change.
He said he did not recall meeting or speaking with Raworth and said his inappropriate touching of the second complainant was unintentional, which he said the investigation corroborated.
After announcing his mayoral candidacy, Hehr said he has nothing to hide, and that he'd be comfortable with the report being made public. Hehr previously defended the decision not to release the report due to privacy concerns.
Thirty people had signed up to run for mayor in this year's race, but with Hehr's announcement, 27 people are still in the running.