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Kim Campbell asks: 'What the hell are election campaigns for?'

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.

"Peter it just takes time," Kim Campbell assures CBC host Peter Gzowski. "You have to be patient." It's Day 20 of the election campaign and support for Campbell's once indomitable platform continues its steady descent. Campbell, however, says she is confident that support will swing back to her party. During the campaign, Campbell has seemed at times cagey, rude and sharp-tongued. In this Morningside interview, Gzowski asks Campbell about the many missteps she's made in her campaign. 
. One of Campbell's most glaring gaffes occurred when she was asked to comment on plans to reform Canada's social programs. Campbell responded that they didn't have a blueprint to work from at that time. When pressed further, Campbell curtly replied that "this is not the time, I don't think, to get involved in a debate on very, very serious issues." Her curt response puzzled many voters.

. Campbell later explained in her autobiography that her remarks were taken out of context and regretted her decision not to clarify her comments. She wrote, "The repercussions of a party leader's remarks can kill a campaign. Even knowing this, I couldn't understand why I was never getting the benefit of the doubt from the media." (Time and Chance)

. Some historians said that the animosity towards Campbell was in part related to Prime Minister Brian Mulroney's unpopularity at the time. During Mulroney's terms in office, the Meech Lake accord failed and controversial initiatives like the Goods and Services Tax (GST) and the Free Trade Agreement were introduced.

. David Camp managed Campbell's leadership campaign. During the federal campaign, Mulroney stalwarts John Tory and Allan Gregg managed Campbell strategy. Campbell later regretted not recruiting her own team.
. Camp later noted that during the federal election, "She tried too hard and she didn't have to and that hurt with the media and it hurt her sometimes just with ordinary people who thought she thought too much of herself." Kim Campbell: Through the Looking Glass
Medium: Radio
Program: Morningside
Broadcast Date: Sept. 28, 1993
Guest(s): Kim Campbell
Host: Peter Gzowski
Duration: 7:04

Last updated: September 19, 2013

Page consulted on December 6, 2013

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