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For Kim Campbell, an 'unspeakably lonely' life

When Kim Campbell set her sights on Ottawa, she was a tart-tongued, unapologetically determined, razor-sharp intellectual. She confounded politicians and voters alike and her career was accordingly thrilling, awkward, at times thorny and ultimately very brief. CBC Archives examines Campbell's meteoric rise through the political ranks from her role as an outspoken backbencher to Canada's first woman prime minister.

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"I find the life here often unspeakably lonely and very difficult," Justice Minister Kim Campbell says in a rare unguarded moment. In a speech to a conference of women journalists in Ottawa, Campbell speaks candidly about seeking power in the nation's capital. Sounding at times weary and at times hopeful, Campbell wins the crowd over with a playful impression of former Conservative PM Joe Clark. She also talks about her unyielding feminism and the rough road she's travelled in the media in this CBC Radio excerpt. 
• Campbell later recalled of this speech, "My explanation of the problems faced by women in redefining roles that have traditionally been seen as male seemed to strike a chord of recognition in the women in the hall, but it was an insight that would be entirely lost by the next year. What is more, when the press discovered, after the 1993 election, that I had recently begun a romantic relationship, there was the suggestion that this somehow made my 'unspeakably lonely' comment of November 1992 dishonest!" -Time and Chance

• The romantic relationship Campbell referred to in her memoir was with Gregory Lekhtman. Years later, former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney was quoted as saying that Campbell was a "very vain person who blew the 1993 election because she was too busy screwing around with her Russian boyfriend [Lekhtman]" in Peter C. Newman's explosive Secret Mulroney Tapes: Confessions of a Prime Minister (2005).

• Campbell and Lekhtman both denied that their relationship in any way derailed the election campaign. The couple split when Campbell accepted the Canadian consul-general position in Los Angeles in 1996. Lekhtman is the inventor of the spring-loaded Exerlopers running boots.
Medium: Radio
Program: As It Happens
Broadcast Date: Nov. 16, 1992
Host: Barbara Budd
Speaker: Kim Campbell
Duration: 6:07
Portrait of Kim Campbell used with the permission of Joe Average.

Last updated: June 14, 2013

Page consulted on September 10, 2014

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