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Kim Campbell's life after politics

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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More than a decade has passed since Kim Campbell became Canada's first woman prime minister. Since leaving office, Campbell has been determined not to be defined as a failed former politician and has since written a play, been a university lecturer and is now the secretary general of the Club of Madrid - a democracy-promoting association of retired heads of government. In this CBC interview, Campbell reflects on what she accomplished and the current scarcity of women in Canadian politics. 
. The Club of Madrid aims to provide support and advice to world leaders on issues related to democracy. Members include former U.S. President Bill Clinton, former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom John Major, and former President of the Soviet Union Mikhail Gorbachev.

. Campbell published her memoirs, Time and Chance in 1996. It begins, "Australian aborigines believe that having your photograph taken robs you of your soul. A political career, I believe, robs you of your persona." - Kim Campbell, Time and Chance.

. Campbell recalled the sense of hope and joy many women felt because of her victory. She recalled, "just laughing with sheer delight, it was partly the delight of winning the campaign but also the sense that we were all making history and I remember one of my supporters being in tears and saying, 'this is for my daughter.' There was this sense that now everything was possible for them." (The documentary Kim Campbell: Through the Looking Glass)

. In April 2004, the National Geographic Society ranked Campbell as one of history's 50 most important political leaders alongside the likes of Alexander the Great, Cleopatra, Napoleon, and Winston Churchill. Jane Sunderland told the Vancouver Sun, "Given that there have not been that many females who have led nations, we chose to include her." Sir John A. Macdonald, Canada's first prime minister was also included in the list. (April 10, 2004, Vancouver Sun)

. Campbell maintained however that her position in the list was of importance since she remains the only woman to have led a national government in North America.

. "It's really a shame to me that it [her political career] got cut so sort. I think Canada's the poorer for it. She would be a great person to have on our political scene." - former campaign manager David Camp, Through the Looking Glass.

. As of February 2006, Campbell remains an Honorary Fellow of the Center for Public Leadership at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government.

. On Nov. 30, 2004, Campbell's official portrait was unveiled in the halls of Parliament.   "It is a great privilege to be here this afternoon to honour the pioneer who is responsible for giving this corridor a female presence," Prime Minister Paul Martin said at the ceremony.

. Artist David Goatley of British Columbia, depicted Campbell in a black suit with her legal robes draped over her chair. A red cape with a West Coast First Nation's icon and an academic gown hang in the background.
Medium: Television
Program: Mansbridge One on One
Broadcast Date: May 8, 2004
Guest(s): Kim Campbell
Host: Peter Mansbridge
Duration: 3:55
Portrait of Kim Campbell: David Goatley

Last updated: May 1, 2012

Page consulted on September 10, 2014

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