Campbell was first elected to the House of Commons in November 1988 as a Conservative. She served as minister of state for Indian Affairs and Northern Development in 1989. As minister of Justice and Attorney General from 1990 to 1992, she introduced reform legislation on a number of issues, including abortion. She also served on the influential Cabinet Committee on Priorities and Planning and was senior minister for British Columbia. Prime Minister Brian Mulroney moved her to National Defence in January 1993 and the following month announced his own retirement. Campbell entered the leadership race as a heavy favourite to win the Tory leadership. Despite a strong challenge from Jean Charest, she managed to win on the second ballot. She took office officially, as the first female prime minister in Canadian history, on June 25, 1993.
Campbell rode an initial wave of popularity in her first few months as prime minister, but her party's standing began to fall almost as soon as the 1993 campaign began. The Mulroney coalition of Western and Québec Conservatives disintegrated under the advance of the Reform Party in the West and of the Bloc Québécois in Québec. Campbell's problematic performance in the campaign, her focus on the debt rather than jobs, her verbal stumbling, her refusal to discuss social programs and her inability to distance herself from the extremely unpopular Brian Mulroney, whose government had failed in its promises to increase jobs, renew federalism and lower the public debt, propelled the party from defeat to disaster. The Conservative Party suffered the greatest defeat in Canadian political history. It was wiped out completely, even in its traditional stronghold of Alberta. Only two Conservatives were elected in all Canada, one of whom was her leadership rival Jean Charest. Campbell herself lost her own seat of Vancouver Centre to the Liberal candidate. She left office after the third-shortest term as prime minister, after Sir Charles Tupper and John Turner.
In August 1996 Prime Minister Chrétien named Campbell Canadian Consul General in Los Angeles. She had been serving as professor at the Harvard University Kennedy School of Government at Irvine, California.
Links to Other Sites
First Among Equals
Learn about the private lives and political careers of Canada’s Prime Ministers. Includes biographies, speeches, and other historical documents. A Library and Archives Canada website.
This website honours Kim Campbell and other exemplary Canadian women in federal and provincial politics. Part of the "Celebrating Women's Achievements" series from Library and Archives Canada.
Governor General's appointments to the Order of Canada
Scroll down the page and click on the links to brief biographical notes of recent appointees to the Order of Canada. Click on "Find a Recipient" on the left side of the page to find previous recipients. From the website for the Governor General of Canada.
Kim Campbell (Chair)
A profile of the Right Honorable Kim Campbell from the website for the World Movement for Democracy.
Summer Jobs Series: How summers spent collecting minimum wage shaped the legacies of Brian Mulroney, Paul Martin
An article that highlights some of the gritty summer jobs held by Canadian prime ministers in their younger years. From the National Post.
Besides hockey and the maple leaf, there is little as symbolically Canadian as the CBC – the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. It grew out of a developing nation's need to express its identity and find its voice.