Kim Campbell reflects on being Canada’s first woman prime minister
The Right Honourable Kim Campbell served as the Prime Minister of Canada from June 25 to November 4, 1993. This past Monday marked the 20th anniversary of the end of her time in office. Megan Beretta, a CIVIX volunteer and University of Ottawa student, attended a panel that included Campbell this week.
On Wednesday, November 6, the University of Ottawa played host to The Right Honourable Kim Campbell, the first female Prime Minister of Canada. The event was held due to a partnership between uOttawa’s Women in Leadership Speaker Series and the national political organization Equal Voice.
The former Prime Minister spoke about a variety of topics. She discussed the benefits of having women in management roles, and how equality in leadership is not about women being “better,” but about women making the organizations better, as they bring half of the world’s talents, perspectives, and skills to the table, when given the chance to contribute. Quoting statistics and research from the field, she proved that women make a difference in breaking up the norms in societal structures, and make a difference to the monotonous “group think” that occurs in organizations lacking diversity.
Alongside Campbell on the panel were other female politicians: Penny Collenette, former National Director of the Liberal Party of Canada and current uOttawa Professor of Law, as well as the 22-year-old Member of Parliament, Laurin Liu, of the riding of Rivière-de-Mille-Îles.
Campbell praised the feminist “movers and shakers,” like Liu, who continue to pursue equality, with the assistance of their teammates: male feminists. The struggle is not about women versus men, rather between men and women who “get it” versus the ones who don’t get it, she stated emphatically. She finished her speech with an anecdote: her colleague made her get specialized stationary that used the French female form of her title, proudly stating “La Premiere Ministre” on the letter head. “It’s in some box, likely over in Langevin Block,” she said, “and before it gets too old, too yellowed, it needs to be used again.” Thunderous applause erupted across the room to that call to action.
The panel that followed her moving speech included questions from Liu and Collenette who added anecdotes, and used their experiences to ask pointed questions. The prime minister discussed her legacy, which is often forgotten amongst the discussion of her short tenure, and the immense changes for her party that were occurring before, during, and after her time in office.
Many citizens may not realize her remarkable contributions, and thusly, her legacy in Canada. Besides from being Canada’s first, and so far only, female prime minister, Campbell was the very first female leader of the Progressive Conservative Party, the first female Minister of Defence and Minister of Justice, along with having held other significant portfolios throughout her time in Parliament. In her time as prime minister, she created important and enduring ministries, like the Department of Heritage and the Department of Public Security.
During Ms. Campbell’s tenure as Prime Minister in 1993, she had an approval rate of 51 per cent, which made her the most popular leader of the country in 30 years. Campbell spoke with great candour, humour, and resilience. She discussed the infamous negative ad campaigns, and what it feels like to lose everything for herself, and her party. The setbacks never got to her, not 20 years ago, and not today. Her perspective is admirable, as she proclaimed: “I don’t pretend I was the greatest Prime Minister. But I do have a legacy. I am the first woman Prime Minister, and that is a reflection of change in Canada.”
One Response to “Kim Campbell reflects on being Canada’s first woman prime minister”
May 24th, 2014 at 5:05 pm
A truly “glass half full article indeed. Kim Campbell becoming the leader of the PCs and becoming Prime Minister was more about the best of a bad lot in a party that had lost touch with the average person. Kim Campbell was arrogant and aloof. The delicious trouncing in the election including the loss of her seat (unlikely taught Campbell anything – she remains as arrogant and self serving as ever – but she is a wonderful walking text book for future leaders re: an example of what not to be like when you’re running for office.
Her only saving grace is she is Canada’s first female prime minister – and that is a good thing. We need more women in top government positions.
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