Avril Phaedra Douglas Campbell, usually known as Kim Campbell (born on March 10, 1947), was the nineteenth Prime Minister of Canada from June 25 to November 4, 1993. She is the only woman to have ever held this office. She was also the second woman in history to sit at the table of the Group of Seven leaders, after British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. According to Canadian protocol, as a former Prime Minister, she is styled "The Right Honourable" for life.
Campbell was born in Port Alberni, British Columbia. She was never particularly fond of any of her given names, and consequently adopted the first name Kim in her teens. She earned a B.A. degree in Political Science from the University of British Columbia, going on to study towards (but not completing) a doctorate in Soviet Government at the London School of Economics. She went on to earn, in 1983, an LL.B. from the University of British Columbia. She was called to the British Columbia Bar in 1984; she practised law in Vancouver until 1986.
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. While still attending law school, Campbell entered politics as a trustee on the Vancouver School Board, rising to become the chair of that board. Divinsky himself had earlier been chair of that board. 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. She is currently married to Hershey Felder, an actor.
Campbell ran unsuccessfully for the leadership of the BC Social Credit Party in the summer of 1986 (placing last with less than a dozen votes from delegates), but was elected in October of 1986 to the BC Legislature as a Socred member for Vancouver Point Grey. A few years later she resigned from the legislature to run in the 1988 federal election as a Progressive Conservative. She won, becoming the Member of Parliament (MP) for Vancouver Centre, in downtown Vancouver.
Campbell immediately joined the Cabinet, becoming 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. Governor General Ray Hnatyshyn formally appointed her Prime Minister on June 25.
Also in 1993, Campbell and Eddy were divorced, although the divorce was finalized before she was sworn in as Prime Minister.
Campbell's career was characterized by some as "a quick rise to fame from a relatively unknown cabinet member to prime minister". In fact, she had served in four cabinet portfolios prior to becoming a candidate for the party leadership and had more experience than eleven of the 18 men who preceded her as prime minister, including Joe Clark and Brian Mulroney, who had no cabinet experience at all, and Pierre Trudeau, who had served only one year in the Justice portfolio. In fact, Campbell had developed a considerable profile during her three years as Minister of Justice and garnered support of more than half the PC caucus when she declared for the leadership.
Like John Turner before her, Campbell's term as Prime Minister would be almost entirely dominated by an electoral campaign. Initially she was very popular - comparisons were made to Trudeaumania of the late 1960's, dubbed "Campbellmania." 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. Her pre-election summer tour raised the Tories to just a few points behind the Liberals in opinion polls.
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 due to public relations blunders committed during the campaign. She 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). Her comment was truncated to "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. She was frequently greeted by the activist chant "Kim, Kim, you're just like him."
A more nuanced analysis of the 1993 campaign would show that Campbell faced many hurdles which research on gender demonstrates could have been expected. Analysis of the press coverage of the campaign reveals that a constant theme of the coverage itself was its unfairness. Journalists wrote openly about the double standard applied to Campbell but there was little or no attempt to analyse why this was the case. Scholarly analysis by experts such as Richard Johnston of the University of British Columbia asserts that Campbell´s "47 days" comment, (a response to a journalist´s attempt to charge her with a hidden agenda) was not the key factor in the vote decline, but was made after the trend had shifted. Rather, the attempt to attribute a hidden agenda on social programs to her in and of itself reminded voters of what they believed about Mulroney - that he would say one thing but do another. Without time to establish a new record for her government, Campbell remained vulnerable to the negative perceptions people had of her predecessor.
By October, the Conservatives' support had tailed off rapidly, and polls showed the Liberals were on their way to at least a minority government, and possibly a majority without dramatic measures. The Conservative campaign staff, knowing that Campbell was still personally more popular than Liberal leader Jean Chrétien, put together a series of ads attacking Chrétien. The second ad appeared to mock Chrétien's facial paralysis, and generated a severe backlash. Even some Tory candidates called for the ad to be yanked. Campbell was not directly responsible for the ad, but ordered it pulled off the air over her staff's objections. However, she didn't apologize, denying her a chance to contain the fallout from the ad. The ad flap was widely regarded as the final nail in Campbell's coffin. Conservative support plummeted into the teens, all but assuring that the Liberals would win a majority government.
The Somalia Affair took place during her "watch" as Minister of National Defence and became a handicap during her subsequent period of public life. When the Liberal Party of Canada took power, the incident became the subject of a lengthy public inquiry, aimed further at embarrassing Campbell and the PCs.
On election night, the Conservatives were swept from power in a massive Liberal landslide. Campbell herself was defeated in Vancouver Centre by rookie Liberal Hedy Fry. It was only the third time in Canadian history that a sitting prime minister was unseated at the same time that his or her party lost an election. In 1921, Arthur Meighen was unseated in his Manitoba riding at the same time his Conservatives were defeated; something which also happened in 1926 after his second brief tenure as prime minister. (Mackenzie King won the 1925 election but lost his seat and had to win a by-election to get back into Parliament). Every Cabinet member except Charest lost their seats. The Conservatives only won two seats to the Liberals' 177 despite finishing third in the popular vote, barely behind the Reform Party. Much of their previous support moved to Reform in the west and the Bloc Québécois in Quebec. A quirk in the first past the post system allowed the geographic concentration of support for Reform and the Bloc to garner them significant numbers of parliamentary seats. The Tories' support was more widely distributed across the country, but not concentrated enough to translate into actual seats. Even though they finished only two percentage points behind Reform, the Tories won only two seats compared to Reform´s 52 and the Bloc's 54.
In hindsight, Campbell faced hurdles that any politician would have found difficult to overcome. Mulroney left office with approval ratings as low as 10%, according to some pollsters. He considerably hampered his own party's campaign effort by staging a very lavish international farewell tour at taxpayer expense and by staying in office until almost the end of his mandate. Under the circumstances, Campbell came into office with almost no room to make mistakes. Mulroney's delay in handing over power all but forced her to drop the writ for the 1993 election just days before Parliament was due to expire, denying her time to make up ground once her initial popularity wore off. Another factor was that the race was a five-way contest with Reform and the Bloc competing with the three traditional parties for votes. There was no issue like the Canada-US Free Trade Agreement five years earlier to make support for such parties seem risky.
Although many pundits saw the defeat as a vote against Mulroney rather than as a rejection of Campbell, she quickly resigned as party leader and was succeeded by her rival Jean Charest.
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 in which she remained until 2000.
In 1997, Campbell collaborated with her third husband, composer, playwright and actor Hershey Felder, on the production of a musical, Noah's Ark in Los Angeles. From 2001 to 2004, she lectured at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. In January 2004 she left Harvard upon being named Secretary General of the Club of Madrid.
From 1999-2003 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 2003-2005 she served as President of the International Women´s Forum, a global organization of women of preeminent achievement whose headquarters is in Washington, D.C.
Campbell serves on the Board of the International Crisis Group and the Forum of Federations and is on the advisory bodies of numerous international organizations. 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 she had not won an election and because many senior ministers in the Mulroney government had not contested the leadership convention.
She was a founding member of the Club of 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. The current President of the Club is Fernando Cardoso, the former President of Brazil, who will be succeeded in March 2006 by Ricardo Lagos, outgoing president of Chile. On January 1, 2004, Campbell assumed the role of Secretary General of the organization.
She continues as a Honorary Fellow at the Center for Public Leadership at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. 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 Haida capes and robes in the background, symbolizing her time as a cabinet minister and as an academic. The unveiling took place amidst protests against President George W. Bush visiting Canada (see[]).
On December 15, 2005, Kim Campbell endorsed the candidacy of Tony Fogarassy, the Conservative Party of Canada's candidate for the riding of Vancouver Centre. Campbell also clarified to reporters that she is a supporter of the new Tory party (see []).
Prime Minister Kim Campbell's official portrait unveiled in 2004. The stylized "K" pin on her right shoulder was Campbell's trademark during her leadership campaign and was designed and made by Vancouver jeweller Martha Sturdy, the Haida
design in the background represents the province of British Columbia and the Queen's Counsel
robes draped over the chair are representative of her time as Justice Minister.
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 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. She was also the first prime minister to convene a First Ministers' conference for consultation prior to representing Canada at the G7 Summit. Jean Chrétien essentially kept governing with Campbell's structure for his ensuing decade of Liberal rule, though the size of the cabinet again increased with Prime Minister Paul Martin's appointment of thirty-eight cabinet ministers 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 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 and the Conservatives regained power in the election of 2006.
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.
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