Vancouver, British Columbia , Canada
|| March 10, 1947
Jan 13, 2020 08:07pm
|Info||Avril Phaedra "Kim" Douglas Campbell,PC, QC, LL.B, LL.D (h.c.) was the 19th Prime Minister of Canada from 25 June to 4 November 1993. As Prime Minister, she was unique as the only woman ever to hold Canada's highest office and the third woman to serve as a head of government in North America (after Eugenia Charles of Dominica and Violeta Chamorro of Nicaragua). She was also the second woman in history to sit at the table of the Group of Eight leaders, after British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. |
Campbell was born in Port Alberni, British Columbia. Her mother left the family when Campbell was 12, leaving Kim and her sister Alix to be raised by their father. As a teenager, Avril permanently nicknamed herself Kim.
She earned a B.A. in Political Science from the University of British Columbia, then studied towards a doctorate in Soviet Government at the London School of Economics. She earned, in 1983, an LL.B. from the University of British Columbia. She was called to the British Columbia Bar in 1984 and practiced law in Vancouver until 1986.
Campbell married Nathan Divinsky in 1972. During their marriage, 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. 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 in a common law marriage to Hershey Felder, an actor, playwright, composer, and concert pianist.
Campbell was the unsuccessful Social Credit Party candidate in Vancouver Centre for a seat in the British Columbia Legislative Assembly in 1983, capturing 12,740 votes (19.3%). Campbell ran unsuccessfully for the leadership of the BC Social Credit Party in 1986 (placing last), but was elected in October 1986 to the Legislative Assembly as a Socred member for Vancouver-Point Grey.
A few years later she resigned to run in the 1988 federal election as a Progressive Conservative in Vancouver Centre. She won and immediately joined the Cabinet, becoming Minister of State for Indian Affairs and Northern Development, followed by Canada's first female Minister of Justice and Attorney-General. She was then appointed as the first female Minister of National Defence.
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 woman's sexual past from being explored during trial.
In February 1993, Prime Minister Brian Mulroney announced his retirement from politics. Campbell defeated Jean Charest at the Progressive Conservative leadership convention that June. Also in 1993, Campbell and Eddy were divorced, although the divorce was finalized before she was sworn in as Prime Minister.
Campbell's term as Prime Minister would be almost entirely dominated by an electoral campaign. Initially she was very popular, as her frank honesty was seen as an important asset and a sharp contrast from Mulroney's highly polished style.
Campbell did extensive campaigning during the summer, touring the nation and attending barbecues and other events. By the end of the summer, her personal popularity had increased greatly. Support for the PC Party had also increased, and they were only a few points behind the Liberals. When an election was called in the fall of 1993, the party had high hopes that they might be able to remain the government and, if not, would at least be a strong opposition to a Liberal minority government.
However, Campbell's initial popularity soon declined due to public-relations mistakes committed after the writ was dropped. Campbell's frank style backfired when she told reporters and a Rideau Hall event that it was unlikely that the deficit or unemployment would be much reduced before the "end of the century".
The Conservatives' support tailed off rapidly as the campaign progressed. By October, polls showed the Liberals were on their way to at least a minority government. However, Campbell was still personally more popular than Liberal leader Jean Chrétien. Knowing this, the Conservative campaign team put together a series of ads attacking Chrétien. The second ad appeared to mock Chrétien's facial paralysis, and generated a severe backlash from all sides. Even some Tory candidates called for the ad to be yanked. Campbell claims to have not been directly responsible for the ad, and to have ordered it off the air over her staff's objections. However, she didn't apologize and lost 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 short of a complete meltdown in the dying days of the campaign.
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.
While Campbell had little time to usher in legislation during her six months as Prime Minister, she did implement changes to the structure of the Canadian government. Under her tenure, the federal cabinet's size was cut from over seventy-five cabinet ministers and parliamentary secretaries to just twenty-three. 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. Due to her brief time in office, Campbell holds a unique spot amongst Canadian prime ministers in that she made no Senate appointments.
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's appointed her Consul General to Los Angeles, a post in which she remained until 2000.
From 2001 to 2004, she again lectured at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. She continues as a Honorary Fellow at the Center for Public Leadership at 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 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.
During the federal election campaign of 2005/2006, Campbell clarified to reporters that she is a supporter of the new Tory party formed from a merger between the PC and Reform (Canadian Alliance) parties.
Adapted from [Link]