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The Right Honourable Kim Campbell

19th Prime Minister of Canada
June 25, 1993 - November 4, 1993

"In a democracy, government isn't something that a small group of people do to everybody else, it's not even something they do for everybody else, it should be something they do with everybody else."

Avril Phaedra Douglas (Kim) Campbell, March 25, 1993.


  • March 10, 1947, Port Alberni, British Columbia
  • University of British Columbia, B.A. Political Science 1969, LL.B 1983
  • London School of Economics, Soviet Studies 1970-1973
The Right Honourable Kim Campbell
The Right Honourable
Kim Campbell
Personal Status
  • Married 1972, Nathan Divinsky (b.1925)
  • Divorced 1983
  • Re-married 1986, Howard Eddy (b.1937)
  • Divorced 1993
  • Common-law Married, 1997(?), Hershey Felder (b. 1969)
Professional Life
  • 1975-1978 Lecturer, Political Science, University of British Columbia
  • 1978-1981 Lecturer, Political Science and History, Vancouver Community College
  • 1980-1984 Trustee, Vancouver School Board
  • 1983 Chairman, Vancouver School Board
  • 1984 Vice-Chairman, Vancouver School Board
  • 1985-1986 Director, Officer of the Premier of British Columbia
  • 1986-1988 MLA British Columbia
  • 1996-2000 Consul General of Canada, Los Angeles, California
  • 1993-Present Lecturer, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University
  • 2004-Present Secretary-General of the Club of Madrid
  • Currently Chair of the Council of Women World Leaders
  • Progressive Conservative
  • June 13, 1993 - December 13, 1993 Party Leader
  • 1988-1993 Vancouver Centre, British Columbia
Other Ministries
  • 1989-1990 Minster of State (Indian Affairs and Northern Developement)
  • 1990-1993 Justice and Attorney General
  • 1993 National Defence and Veterans Affairs
The Right Honourable Kim Campbell
The Right Honourable
Kim Campbell in 2017
Political Record
  • Criminal Code Amendment (firearms control) 1991
  • Criminal Code Amendment (sexual assualt) 1992
  • First woman prime minister of Canada

Where is she now?
As of 2012, The Right Honourable Kim Campbell is Chair of the International Advisory Board of the Foundation for Effective Governance in Kiev, and chair of the steering committee of the World Movement for Democracy. She is a Trustee of the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation and Political Violence at King's College London. She also serves on advisory boards of numerous other international organizations such as the Arab Democracy Foundation, which launched in Doha in May of 2007, the Middle Powers Initiative, and the Asia Society New York. She is a member of the Pacific Council on International Policy, (the West Coast affiliate of the Council on Foreign Relations), the Board of the Forum of Federations and serves on the advisory board for Glendon College at York University.

Descriptive Biography

As a prospective Conservative leader and prime minister, Kim Campbell spoke of the "politics of inclusion," a style of government she had demonstrated as Minister of Justice, in hopes of persuading Canadians to vote Tory one more time. However, like other new prime ministers inheruting a long term of office, she was unable to shake off an unhappy legacy. As did Tupper, Meighen, and Turner, Campbell led Canada for only a brief period before going down to electoral defeat.

Avril Phaedra Douglas Campbell was born in Port Alberni, B.C., in 1947. Her parent's moved to Vancouver soon after she was born, where her father studied law at the University of British Columbia. The marriage was not a happy one; her mother left the family when Campbell was only twelve years old. It was at this point that she changed her name to Kim. Despite the family distress, Campbell did well in high school and involved herself in politics at an early age, running for and winning the presidency of her student's council. Kim Campbell became the first female student president of Prince of Wales Secondary School.

In 1964, she went to U.B.C. where she majored in political science. Here again, Campbell met with political success and was elected the first female freshman president. After graduation, she took some graduate courses at the Institute of International Relations, before winning a scholarship to the London School of Economics. At the L.S.E., Campbell began a doctorate in Soviet studies She returned to Vancouver in 1973, her thesis unfinished, and began lecturing part-time at Simon Fraser University and Vancouver Community College.

In 1980, she returned to U.B.C. to study law, and at the same time, got involved in local politics. Campbell was elected to the Vancouver School Board and served for four years. Her platform of fiscal restaint caught the attention of the governing Social Credit party and was asked to run as a Socred candidate in the 1984 provincial election. Although she lost the seat, Campbell was offered a job as a policy advisor to B.C. Socred Premier Bill Bennett the following year.

When Bennett resigned in 1986, Campbell ran for provincial leader Bill Vander Zalm. In the election that year, she won a seat in the legislature. Here she made her mark by publicly opposing the premier's restrictive stance on abortion. By 1988, Campbell was being wooed by the federal Conservative party. Their star B.C. Cabinet minister, Pat Carney, was retiring from politics and a candidate was needed for her seat in Vancouver Centre. Campbell agreed to run and won in the 1988 election.

She was offered a junior Cabinet post in 1989 as Minister of State for Indian and Northern Affairs. The following year she became Canada's first female Justice Minister. It was here that she proved her mettle as a politician. Campbell introduced a bill amending the gun laws. In the wake of the 1989 Montreal massacre, she had to satisfy a widespread public outcry for more restrictive gun laws and get support for the legislation from a determined lobby of gun-owners within her own caucus.

Campbell was also praised for Bill C-49 which was drafted when the Supreme Court struck down the 1983 "rape shield" law as unconstitutional. She made the unprecendented move with consulting with women's groups and law associations, as well as ministry officials, in drafting the new law. By focusing in the principle of consent, Bill C-49 remained constitutional and still protective of a victim's rights. It passed second reading in the Commons with a rare vote of unanimity by all three federal parties.

In 1993, Campbell became Minister of National Defence and was immediately embroiled in the debate over the EH-101 helicopter contract and the deaths of four Somalis at the hands of Canadian paratroopers. By this time, Prime Minister Brian Mulroney had announced his retirement, and Campbell was encouraged to run for party leader. Her only strong competition was Jean Charest, and she won in a close contest at the convention in June. Kim Campbell became Canada's first female prime minister.

However the Conservative mandate to govern had expired and Campbell had to call an election for October 1993. She was unable to overcome her party's nine-year legacy and bore the brunt of voters' dissatisfaction with free trade, the GST, the constitutional fiascos and the economic recession. The Conservatives suffered an extraordinary defeat, reduced to just two seats in the House of Commons. Campbell herself lost her Vancouver seat - the first time a sitting prime minister has done so.

Life after being Prime Minister for Campbell has been a mix of academia (Harvard), foreign service (Consul General of Canada in Los Angeles), and member of international organizations (Council of Women World Leaders and Club of Madrid).

SOURCE: Library and Archives Canada.

See also
Former Prime Ministers of Canada

External Links
Foundation for Effective Governance
World Movement for Democracy
International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation
Council of Women World Leaders
Club de Madrid

Copyright Craig I.W. Marlatt