Kim Campbell

From Academic Kids

The Rt. Hon. Kim Campbell
Rank: 19th
Term: June 25 - November 4, 1993
Predecessor: Brian Mulroney
Successor: Jean Chr鴩en
Date of Birth: March 10, 1947
Place of Birth: Port Alberni, British Columbia
Profession: politician
Political Party: Progressive Conservative

The Right Honourable Avril Phaedra Douglas "Kim" Campbell, PC, BA (born March 10, 1947, Port Alberni, British Columbia) was the nineteenth Prime Minister of Canada from June 25 to November 4, 1993. Though she was not popularly elected, she remains North America's only female head of a national government to date. She was also the second woman in history to sit at the table of the Group of Seven (now G8) leaders, the eight most industrialized countries in the world, after British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

She was never particularly fond of any of her given names, and consequently adopted the first name Kim in her teens. She was educated at the University of British Columbia (B.A., LL.B.) and studied towards a doctorate in Soviet Government at the London School of Economics.

Campbell married Nathan Divinsky in 1972. During their marriage, Campbell lectured in political science at the University of British Columbia and at Vancouver Community College, and entered politics as a Vancouver school board trustee. Campbell and Divinsky were divorced in 1983, and Campbell married Howard Eddy in 1986.

Political Life

She was elected to the British Columbia legislature as a member of the Social Credit party in 1986 and later unsuccessfully ran for the leadership of the party. A few years later she resigned from the legislature to run in the 1988 federal election as a Progressive Conservative.

Upon her election to the Canadian House of Commons in 1988, Campbell became Canada's first female Minister of Justice (1990-1993). Then she briefly became the first female Minister of National Defence before running to succeed Prime Minister Brian Mulroney when he resigned as leader of the Progressive Conservative Party in 1993. Campbell defeated Jean Charest at the Progressive Conservative leadership convention that June. As leader of the Conservatives Campbell automatically became Prime Minister of Canada.

Also in 1993, Campbell and Eddy were divorced, although the divorce was finalized before she was sworn in as Prime Minister.

Campbell's quick rise to fame from a relatively unknown cabinet member to Prime Minister of Canada came as a bit of a shock to many Canadians. The fact that she was a woman, the first to become Prime Minister, initially made her very popular. For a while, it seemed that she might have a chance of repairing the Conservative party's reputation, which had been badly damaged after a number of scandals during the Mulroney government. When an election had to be called in the fall of 1993, the party had high hopes that they may be able to remain in government, and if not, would at least be a strong opposition to a Liberal minority government.

However, Campbell's initial popularity soon wore off. The prime minister appeared to have troubles relating to "regular" Canadians, and many felt that she had an overly condescending and pretentious tone. During the election campaign, she stated that discussing a complete overhaul of Canada's social policies in all their complexities could not be done in just 47 days (the time allotted to an election campaign), although her comment is widely remembered as suggesting that "an election is no time to discuss serious issues". In addition, she was criticized as carrying much the same attitudes and positions of her widely detested predecessor epitomised in the activist chant, "Kim, Kim, you're just like him."

Campbell also had a habit of making public relations blunders. A Conservative election commercial in which Liberal leader Jean Chr鴩en's facial paralysis was mocked was largely regarded as the final nail in her campaign's coffin.

Despite all of the above, Campbell's Tories remained competitive in most polls; however, the result of the 1993 election was that all but two of the Conservative party's candidates lost their seats in a massive landslide victory by the Liberal Party, and Campbell herself failed to hold onto her Vancouver riding. This was despite the Convervatives having finished third in the popular vote, barely behind the Reform Party. The concentration of support for Reform in the west and the Bloc Qu颩cois in Quebec prevented the Conservatives from winning seats under the first past the post electoral system.

Although many pundits saw the unprecedented scope of her defeat as a reflection of the unpopularity of her predecessor Mulroney rather than as a rejection of Campbell, she quickly resigned her position as party leader.

Post-political career

Campbell returned to lecturing in political science for a few years, this time at Harvard. Then, in 1996, the Liberal government that had defeated Campbell appointed her Consul General to Los Angeles, a post she remained in until 2000.

In 1997, Campbell collaborated with common-law husband Hershey Felder on the production of a musical, Noah's Ark in Los Angeles. In 2002, she lectured at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. She is also Chair of the Council of Women World Leaders, a network organised by the Kennedy School.

In 2004, she was included in the list of 50 most important political leaders in history in the Almanac of World History compiled by the National Geographic Society. She was cited for her status as the only woman leader of a North American country to date, but controversy ensued among academics in Canada over the merit of this honour.

She is also a member of the Club of Madrid, an independent organization whose main purpose and priority is to contribute to the strengthening of democracy in the world. Its membership is by invitation only and consists of former Heads of State and Government. The current President of the Club of Madrid is Fernando Cardoso, the former President of Brazil. On January 1st, 2004, Ms. Campbell assumed the role of Secretary General of the organization's secretariat in Madrid.

She continues as a Lecturer of Public Policy at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University to this day, in addition to her duties at the Club of Madrid. She also is the director of several publicly traded companies in high technology and biotechnology.

On November 30, 2004, Campbell's official portrait for the parliamentary Prime Minister's gallery was unveiled. The painting was created by Victoria artist David Goatley. Kim Campbell said she was “deeply honoured” to be the only woman to have her picture in the prime ministers' corridor, stating “I really look forward to the day when there are many other female faces.” The painting shows a pensive Ms. Campbell sitting on a chair with richly coloured capes and robes in the background, symbolizing her time as a cabinet minister and as an academic. The unveiling took place amidst protests against U.S. President George W. Bush visiting Canada [1] (


Missing image
Prime Minister Kim Campbell's official portrait unveiled in 2004.

Campbell took her political rise and fall with good grace. For several years she devoted herself with energy and imagination towards expanding her role and duties as the Canadian Consul General in Los Angeles and worked as a popular sessional lecturer at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government. As Justice Minister, Campbell brought about a new rape law whose passage firmly entrenched that in cases involving sexual assault, "no means no." While Campbell had little time to usher in legislation during her six brief months as Prime Minister, she did implement radical changes to the structure of the Canadian government. Under her tenure, the patronage bloated federal cabinet's size was cut from over seventy-five cabinet ministers and parliamentary secretaries to just twenty-three and the number of cabinet committees was reduced from eleven to five. Jean Chr鴩en essentially kept governing with Campbell's structure for his ensuing decade of Liberal rule, though the use of patronage has increased with Prime Minister Paul Martin's appointment of a thirty-eight member federal cabinet in July, 2004.

While the Progressive Conservatives teetered on the brink of destruction after her leadership, they did regain party status and survived as a distinct and relatively popular political entity for another ten years after the 1993 election debacle. The party subsequently merged with the Canadian Alliance to form the Conservative Party of Canada in 2004.

Campbell remains one of the youngest women to have ever assumed the office of Prime Minister in any country, and one of the youngest to have left the office. She is also, at present, the youngest former Canadian prime minister.

Preceded by:
Brian Mulroney
Prime Minister of Canada
Succeeded by:
Jean Chrétien
Preceded by:
Brian Mulroney
Progressive Conservative Leaders
Succeeded by:
Jean Charest
Preceded by:
Pat Carney, PC
Member of Parliament for Vancouver Centre
Succeeded by:
Hedy Fry, Liberal

Template:End box Template:CanPM


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