Kim Campbell

For the American military pilot, see Kim Campbell (pilot). For the fictional British television character, see Kim Campbell (Waterloo Road).
The Right Honourable
Kim Campbell
19th Prime Minister of Canada
In office
June 25, 1993  November 4, 1993
Monarch Elizabeth II
Governor General Ray Hnatyshyn
Deputy Jean Charest
Preceded by Brian Mulroney
Succeeded by Jean Chrétien
Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada
In office
June 13, 1993  December 14, 1993
Preceded by Brian Mulroney
Succeeded by Jean Charest
Minister of National Defence
In office
January 4, 1993  June 25, 1993
Prime Minister Brian Mulroney
Preceded by Marcel Masse
Succeeded by Tom Siddon
Minister of Veterans Affairs
In office
January 4, 1993  June 25, 1993
Prime Minister Brian Mulroney
Preceded by Gerald Merrithew
Succeeded by Peter McCreath
Minister responsible for Federal-Provincial Relations
In office
January 4, 1993  June 25, 1993
Prime Minister Brian Mulroney
Preceded by Position established
Succeeded by Marcel Massé (Intergovernmental Affairs)
Minister of Justice
In office
February 23, 1990  January 3, 1993
Prime Minister Brian Mulroney
Preceded by Doug Lewis
Succeeded by Pierre Blais
Member of the Canada Parliament
for Vancouver Centre
In office
November 21, 1988  October 25, 1993
Preceded by Pat Carney
Succeeded by Hedy Fry
Member of the British Columbia Legislative Assembly for Vancouver-Point Grey
In office
September 24, 1986  November 21, 1988
Serving with Darlene Marzari
Preceded by Pat McGeer
Garde Gardom
Succeeded by Tom Perry
Personal details
Born Avril Phædra Douglas Campbell
(1947-03-10) March 10, 1947
Port Alberni, British Columbia, Canada
Political party Progressive Conservative (1988–2003)
Other political
British Columbia Social Credit Party (Before 1988)
Spouse(s) Nathan Divinsky (1972–1983)
Howard Eddy (1986–1993)
Hershey Felder (1997–present)
Residence Paris, France
Alma mater
  • Lawyer
  • Academic
Religion Anglicanism

Avril Phædra Douglas "Kim" Campbell PC CC OBC QC (born March 10, 1947) is a Canadian politician, diplomat, lawyer and writer who served as the 19th Prime Minister of Canada, from June 25, 1993, to November 4, 1993. Campbell was the first, and to date, only female prime minister of Canada, the first baby boomer to hold that office, and the only prime minister born in British Columbia.[1] She currently is the chairperson for Canada's Supreme Court Advisory Board.[2]

Early life

Campbell was born in Port Alberni, British Columbia, the daughter of Phyllis "Lissa" Margaret (née Cook; 1923–2013) and George Thomas Campbell (1920–2002), a barrister.[3] Her father was born in Montreal, to Scottish parents, from Glasgow.[4] Her mother left the family when Campbell was 12, leaving Kim and her sister Alix to be raised by their father. As a teenager, Campbell permanently nicknamed herself Kim, perhaps for actress Kim Novak.[5]

While in her pre-teens, Campbell was a host and reporter on the CBC children's program Junior Television Club.[6]

Campbell and her family moved to Vancouver, where she attended Prince of Wales Secondary School and was a top student. She became the school's first female student president, and graduated in 1964.

University and early career

She earned an honors bachelor's degree in political science from the University of British Columbia, graduating in 1969. She was active in the student government and served as the school's first female president of the freshman class. She then completed a year of graduate study at that school, to qualify for doctoral-level studies.[7] Campbell entered the London School of Economics in 1970 to study towards her doctorate in Soviet Government, and spent three months touring the Soviet Union, from April to June 1972. She had spent several years studying the Russian language, and was nearly fluent.[8] Campbell ultimately left her doctoral studies, returning to live in Vancouver after marrying Nathan Divinsky, her longtime partner, in 1972. She earned, in 1983, an LL.B. from the University of British Columbia. She was called to the British Columbia Bar in 1984, and practised law in Vancouver until 1986.

Family and early political career

During her marriage to Divinsky, Campbell lectured part-time in political science at the University of British Columbia and at Vancouver Community College. While still attending law school, she entered politics as a trustee on the Vancouver School Board, becoming, in 1983, the chair of that board and serving in 1984 as its vice-chair. She once claimed to have told the board to "back off" although others alleged that she said "fuck off".[9] In total, she was a trustee there from 1980 to 1984. Campbell and Divinsky were divorced in 1983, and Campbell married Howard Eddy in 1986, a marriage that lasted until shortly before she became prime minister. Campbell is the second prime minister of Canada to have been divorced, after Pierre Trudeau.

She briefly dated Gregory Lekhtman, the inventor of Exerlopers, during her term as prime minister, but the relationship was relatively private and she did not involve him in the 1993 election campaign. She is currently married to Hershey Felder, an actor, playwright, composer, and concert pianist.[10] She remains close to Nathan Divinsky's daughter Pamelea.

Provincial politics

Campbell was the unsuccessful British Columbia Social Credit Party (Socred) candidate in Vancouver Centre for a seat in the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia in 1983, receiving 12,740 votes (19.3% in a double member riding). Campbell ran unsuccessfully for the leadership of the BC Social Credit Party in the summer of 1986 (placing last with 14 votes from delegates), but was elected in October 1986 to the British Columbia Legislative Assembly as a Socred member for Vancouver-Point Grey, getting 19,716 votes (23.2%, also in a double member riding). Consigned to the backbenches, she became disenchanted with Premier Bill Vander Zalm's leadership and broke with him and Social Credit over the issue of abortion, which Vander Zalm was opposed to. Campbell decided to leave provincial politics and enter federal politics.[11]

Federal politics

Campbell was elected in the 1988 federal election as the member of parliament (MP) from Vancouver Centre. She won the party nomination after the incumbent, Pat Carney, declined to stand for re-nomination. In 1989 she was appointed to the cabinet as Minister of State (Indian Affairs and Northern Development). From 1990–1993 she held the post of Minister of Justice and Attorney General where she oversaw notable amendments to the Criminal Code in the areas of firearms control and sexual assault. In 1990, following the Supreme Court's decision invalidating the country's abortion law, Campbell was responsible for introducing Bill C-43 to govern abortions in Canada. Although it passed the House of Commons, it failed to pass the Senate, and as of 2016 there is no national law governing abortions.[12][13]

In 1993 Campbell was transferred to the posts of Minister of National Defence and Minister of Veterans Affairs. Notable events during her tenure included dealing with the controversial issue of replacing shipborne helicopters for the navy and for search and rescue units. The actions by Canadian Airborne Regiment in the military scandal known as the Somalia Affair also first emerged while Campbell was minister.[14][15] When the Liberal Party of Canada took power, the incident became the subject of a lengthy public inquiry, continuing to focus attention on Campbell and the PCs.

Prime Minister (June–November 1993)

In February 1993, Prime Minister Brian Mulroney announced his retirement from politics, to take effect June 25, 1993. Campbell entered the party leadership race to succeed Mulroney. Campbell had served in four cabinet portfolios prior to running for the party leadership, including three years as Minister of Justice, and garnered support of more than half the PC caucus when she declared for the leadership.

She defeated Jean Charest at the Progressive Conservative leadership convention that June, and Governor General Ray Hnatyshyn appointed her Prime Minister on June 25. As a concession to Charest, Campbell appointed him to the posts of Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Industry, Science and Technology—the first largely symbolic, and the second a significant cabinet portfolio position.

After becoming party leader and Prime Minister, Campbell set about reorganizing the cabinet. She cut it from 35 ministers to 23 ministers; she consolidated ministries by creating three new ministries: Health, Canadian Heritage, and Public Security. Campbell extensively campaigned during the summer, touring the nation and attending barbecues and other events. In August 1993, a Gallup Canada poll showed Campbell as having a 51 percent approval rating, which placed her as Canada's most popular prime minister in 30 years.[16][17] By the end of the summer, her personal popularity had increased greatly, far surpassing that of Liberal Party leader Jean Chrétien.[18] Support for the Progressive Conservative Party had also increased to within a few points of the Liberals, while the Reform Party had been reduced to single digits.

Campbell was the only Canadian prime minister not to have resided at 24 Sussex Drive since that address became the official home of the Prime Minister of Canada in 1951. Campbell's predecessor Mulroney remained at 24 Sussex while renovations on his new home in Montreal were being completed. Campbell instead took up residence at Harrington Lake, the PM's summer and weekend retreat, located in rural Quebec, north of Ottawa, and she did not move into 24 Sussex after Mulroney left. Like Charles Tupper and John Turner, Campbell never sat in Parliament as Prime Minister, as her term was filled by the summer break and the election campaign.

The 1993 election

Campbell entered office facing a statutory general election. She waited as long as she could before asking Governor General Ray Hnatyshyn to dissolve Parliament on September 8, only weeks before Parliament was due to expire. The election was scheduled for October 25, the latest date it could be legally held under Section 4 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The Tories were optimistic that they would be able to remain in power and, if not, would at least be a strong opposition to a Liberal minority government.


Campbell's initial popularity declined after the writ was dropped. When she was running for the party leadership, Campbell's frank honesty was seen as an important asset and a sharp contrast from Mulroney's highly polished style. However, this backfired when she told reporters at a Rideau Hall event that it was unlikely that the deficit or unemployment would be much reduced before the "end of the century". During the election campaign, she further stated that discussing a complete overhaul of Canada's social policies in all their complexities could not be done in just 47 days; this statement was reduced to her having stated that an election is no time to discuss important issues.

Progressive Conservative support tailed off as the campaign progressed. By October, polls showed the Liberals were well on their way to at least a minority government, and would probably win a majority without dramatic measures. Even at this point, Campbell was still considerably more popular than Liberal leader Jean Chrétien. In hopes of stemming the tide, the Progressive Conservative campaign team put together a series of ads attacking the Liberal leader. The second ad appeared to mock Chrétien's Bell's Palsy facial paralysis, and generated a severe backlash from the media,[19] with some Tory candidates calling for the ad to be pulled from broadcasts. Campbell claims to have not been directly responsible for the ad, and to have ordered it off the air[20] over her staff's objections.

It was to no avail. Tory support plummeted into the teens in the aftermath of the ad, all but assuring that the Liberals would win a majority government.

Election defeat

On election night, October 25, the Progressive Conservatives were swept from power in a Liberal landslide. Campbell herself was defeated in Vancouver Centre by rookie Liberal Hedy Fry. She conceded defeat with the remark, "Gee, I'm glad I didn't sell my car."[21]

It was only the third time in Canadian history that a prime minister was unseated at the same time that his or her party lost an election. All Progressive Conservatives running for re-election lost their seats, with the lone exception of Jean Charest, who was also the only surviving member of Campbell's cabinet. The Tories' previous support in Western Canada moved to Reform and the Liberals, while the Bloc Québécois inherited most soft-nationalist Tory support in Quebec. In some cases, the Bloc pushed Cabinet ministers from Quebec into third place.

The Tories still finished with over two million votes, taking third place in the popular vote, and falling only two percentage points short of Reform for second place. However, as a consequence of the first past the post system, Tory support was not concentrated in enough areas to translate into victories in individual ridings. As a result, the Tories won only two seats, compared to Reform's 52 and the Bloc's 54. It was the worst defeat in party history, and the worst defeat ever suffered by a Canadian governing party at the federal level.

Campbell faced hurdles that she blamed as being insurmountable. Mulroney left office as one of the most (and according to Campbell, the most)[22] unpopular prime ministers since opinion polling began in the 1940s. He considerably hampered his own party's campaign effort by staging a very lavish international farewell tour at taxpayer expense, and by delaying his retirement until there were only two-and-a-half months left in the Tories' five-year mandate.

Some have pointed to her gender as a major contributing factor to her historic loss. University of New Brunswick professor Joanna Everitt writes that while media simply reported the facts about rival male leaders such as Jean Chrétien, Campbell's actions were usually interpreted as having some motive (drawing up support, appealing to a group, etc.)[23]

Canadian humourist Will Ferguson suggested that the poor campaign meant Campbell should receive "some of the blame" for her party's losses, though "taking over the party leadership from Brian (Mulroney) was a lot like taking over the controls of a 747 just before it plunges into the Rockies."[24]

On December 13, 1993, Campbell resigned as party leader; Jean Charest succeeded her.

Post-political career

Despite her dramatic loss in the election, the Canadian women's magazine Chatelaine named Campbell as its Woman of the Year for 1993.[25] She published an autobiography, Time and Chance, (ISBN 0-770-42738-3) in 1996. The book became a Canadian bestseller, and is in its third edition from the University of Alberta Bookstore Press (ISBN 000010132X).

It was briefly rumoured that she was to be sent to Moscow as the ambassador to Russia.[26] However, in 1996, Campbell was appointed consul general to Los Angeles by the Chrétien government, a post in which she remained until 2000. While she was there, she collaborated with her husband, composer, playwright and actor Hershey Felder, on the production of a musical, Noah's Ark.

From 1999 to 2003, she chaired the Council of Women World Leaders, a network of women who hold or have held the office of president or prime minister. She was succeeded by former Irish President Mary Robinson. From 2003 until 2005 she served as President of the International Women's Forum, a global organization of women of prominent achievement, with headquarters in Washington, D.C. From 2001 to 2004, she lectured at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. She continues as an Honorary Fellow at the Center for Public Leadership at the Kennedy School. She served as a director of several publicly traded companies in high technology and biotechnology.

Campbell chairs the steering committee of the World Movement for Democracy. She served on the board of the International Crisis Group, an NGO that aims to prevent and resolve deadly conflicts. She is on the board of the Forum of Federations, the EastWest Institute, and is on the advisory body of the The International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation and Political Violence at King's College London. She was a founding member of the Club de Madrid, an independent organization whose main purpose is to strengthen democracy in the world. Its membership is by invitation only, and consists of former Heads of State and Government. At different times Campbell has served as its Interim President, Vice President and from 2004 2006 its Secretary General. Campbell was the founding Chair of the International Advisory Board of the Ukrainian Foundation for Effective Governance, an NGO formed in September 2007 with the aid of businessman Rinat Akhmetov.[27]

During the 2006 election campaign, Campbell endorsed the candidacy of Tony Fogarassy, the Conservative candidate in Campbell's former riding of Vancouver Centre. Campbell also clarified to reporters that she is a supporter of the new Conservative Party. Fogarassy lost the election, placing a distant third.

While testifying in April 2009 at the Mulroney-Schreiber Airbus inquiry, Campbell said she still follows Canadian politics "intermittently."[28]

In April 2014, Campbell was appointed the founding principal of the new Peter Lougheed Leadership College at the University of Alberta.[29]

She has appeared on the CBC Television program Canada's Next Great Prime Minister, a show which profiles and selects young prospective leaders, and has also been an occasional panelist on Real Time with Bill Maher.

On August 2, 2016, it was announced by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau that Campbell had agreed to chair a seven-person committee to prepare a shortlist of candidates to succeed Thomas Cromwell on the Supreme Court of Canada.[30]


As Justice Minister, Campbell brought about a new rape law that clarified sexual assault and whose passage firmly entrenched that in cases involving sexual assault, "no means no". She also introduced the rape shield law, legislation that protects a person's sexual past from being explored during trial.

Since Parliament never sat during Campbell's four months as prime minister,[31] she was unable to bring forth new legislation, which must be formally introduced there. However, she did implement radical changes to the structure of the Canadian government. Under her tenure, the federal cabinet's size was cut from over 35 cabinet ministers and ministers of state to 23. This included the redesign of 8 ministries and the abolition or merging of 15 others.[32][33] The Chrétien government retained these new ministries when it took office. The number of cabinet committees was reduced from 11 to 5. Her successors have continued to keep the size of the federal Cabinet to approximately 30 members. She was also the first prime minister to convene a First Ministers' conference for consultation prior to representing Canada at the G7 Summit. Due to her brief time in office, Campbell holds a unique spot among Canadian prime ministers in that she made no Senate appointments.

Campbell harshly criticized Mulroney for not allowing her to succeed him before June 1993. In her view, when she became prime minister, she had very little time or chance to make up ground on the Liberals once her initial popularity faded. In her memoirs, Time and Chance, and in her response to The Secret Mulroney Tapes, Campbell suggested that Mulroney knew the Tories would be defeated in the upcoming election, and wanted a "scapegoat who would bear the burden of his unpopularity" rather than a viable successor. The cause of the 1993 debacle remains disputed, with some arguing that the election results were a vote against Mulroney rather than a rejection of Campbell, and others suggesting that the poorly run Campbell campaign was the key factor in the result.

Although the Progressive Conservatives survived as a distinct political party for another decade after the 1993 debacle, they never recovered their previous standing. During that period they were led by Jean Charest (1993–1998), Elsie Wayne (1998) and then, for the second time, by Joe Clark (1998–2003) (who had been Opposition Leader and briefly Prime Minister 20 years earlier). By 2003, the party under new leader Peter MacKay had voted to merge with the Canadian Alliance to form the Conservative Party of Canada, thus ceasing to exist, despite MacKay having promised not to pursue a mergers. Joe Clark continued to sit as a "Progressive Conservative" into 2004. The new generation of right-leaning Conservatives gained power in the election of 2006, ensuring the "Tory" nickname's survival in the federal politics of Canada. A PC "rump" caucus continued to exist in the Senate of Canada (consisting of certain Clark, Mulroney and Paul Martin appointees), but as of 2012 only one senator, Elaine McCoy of Alberta, sits as a Progressive Conservative.

Campbell remains one of the youngest women to have ever assumed the office of Prime Minister in any country, and thus also one of the youngest to have left the office.

Campbell was ranked No. 20 out of the first 20 Prime Ministers of Canada (through Jean Chrétien) by a survey of 26 Canadian historians used by J.L. Granatstein and Norman Hillmer in their 1997 book Prime Ministers: Ranking Canada's Leaders. A follow-up article co-authored by Hillmer in 2011 for Maclean's Magazine broadened the number of historians surveyed; in this new survey of over 100 Canadian historians, Campbell again finished dead last, this time coming at #22 out of Canada's first 22 Prime Ministers (through Stephen Harper).[34]

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 head of government of a North American country (defined variously), but controversy ensued among academics in Canada over the merit of this honour, since her brief term in office was marked by very few, if any, major political accomplishments.

On November 30, 2004, Campbell's official portrait for the parliamentary Prime Minister's gallery was unveiled. The painting was created by Victoria, British Columbia artist David Goatley. 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 Campbell sitting on a chair with richly coloured Haida capes and robes in the background, symbolizing her time as a cabinet minister and as an academic.[35]


According to Canadian protocol, as a former Prime Minister, she is styled "The Right Honourable" for life.

Honorary degrees


See also


  1. Skard, Torild (2014) "Kim Campbell" in Women of Power - Half a century of female presidents and prime ministers worldwide, Bristol: Policy Press, ISBN 978-1-44731-578-0
  3. Gordon Donaldson, The Prime Ministers of Canada, (Toronto: Doubleday Canada Limited, 1997), p. 351.
  4. "Introducing Avril Campbell – Kim Campbell, First and Foremost – CBC Archives". CBC News. Retrieved June 6, 2015.
  5. Time And Chance, by Kim Campbell, 1996, pp. 17–23.
  6. Time and Chance, by Kim Campbell, 1996, pp. 26–37.
  7. Donaldson, p. 354.
  8. Kim Campbell, online biography. Retrieved January 13, 2014
  10. Kim Campbell defends Bill C-43, CBC Archives. Retrieved January 14, 2014
  11. Kim Campbell: Bill C-43 is woman's entitlement, The Interim, May 31, 1990. Retrieved January 13, 2014
  12. Canadian History. Retrieved January 13, 2014
  13. Campbell – First Among Equals, Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved January 13, 2014
  14. New York Times Article: ""
  15. Orlando Sentinel Article: "Female Leader of Canada Is the Most Popular in 30 Years"
  16. Woolstencroft 15.
  17. CBC News, CBC. 15 Oct. 1993. Television
  18. Donaldson, p. 367.
  19. McLaughlin, David, Poisoned Chalice: The Last Campaign of the Progressive Conservative Party? (Toronto: Dundurn Press, 1994), p. 276
  20. Krauss, Clifford (September 25, 2005). "Canada Still Has Mulroney to Kick Around". The New York Times. Retrieved May 7, 2010.
  21. Joanna Everitt. "Uncovering the Coverage: Gender Biases in Canadian Political Reporting". Media Awareness Network. Archived from the original on February 17, 2010.
  22. Will Ferguson, Bastards and Boneheads: Canada's Glorious Leaders Past and Present (Vancouver/Toronto: Douglas & McIntyre, 1999), p. 284.
  23. A. Kim Campbell – Canadian Women in Government – Celebrating Women's Achievements
  24. Desbarats, Peter. "Somalia cover-up: A commissioner's journal", 1997. p. 243
  25. "Shimon Peres talks, via video conference, of strong relationship between Israel and Ukraine". Reuters, February 4, 2008. Retrieved January 28, 2015.
  26. "Beatty baffled by millions in Bear Head lobby fees". Toronto Star, April 29, 2009.
  27. "Former PM to lead the way at Peter Lougheed Leadership College". University of Alberta, April 15, 2014.
  28. Kim Campbell to chair Supreme Court advisory board, Macleans, August 2, 2016.
  33. CBC News (December 1, 2004). "Kim Campbell's official portrait unveiled in Ottawa". Retrieved January 28, 2015.
  34. Office of the Governor General of Canada. Order of Canada citation. Queen's Printer for Canada. Retrieved May 26, 2010
  35. "UBC Archives – Honorary Degree Citations – 2000–02". Retrieved June 25, 2008.
  36. "ASU News > Browne, Campbell honored at commencement ceremony". Retrieved June 25, 2008.
  37. Canadian Heraldic Authority (Volume II), Ottawa, 1995, p. 380

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