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1993: Tories trampled in Liberal landslide

The Story

It's been nine years since Brian Mulroney brought Tory Blue back to Parliament Hill, and Canadians have had enough. With new leader Kim Campbell at the wheel, the Progressive Conservatives headed into the 1993 federal election with high hopes, but voters dealt them a crippling blow. They sent them back to Ottawa with a measly two seats. This report from CBC News reviews the historic Liberal landslide win that effectively cast the once-prominent PC party into the political wilderness.As Canada's first female prime minister, Kim Campbell was a media sensation and the Tories' best hope for a new lease on life. Those expectations were shattered on Oct. 25 when Jean Chrétien's Liberal Party swept to victory with 178 seats. The Conservatives dropped from a 154-seat majority to just two overnight.

Medium: Television
Program: Prime Time News
Broadcast Date: Oct. 26, 1993
Guests: Kim Campbell, John Crosbie, Alain Perez
Host: Peter Mansbridge
Reporter: Joe Schlesinger
Duration: 3:01

Did You know?

• Kim Campbell was elected leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada in June 1993. She replaced Brian Mulroney, who retired in February following public criticism for the introduction of the GST, the faltering economy and constitutional discord.

• Campbell, a 46-year-old former lawyer and justice minister, was the first woman to ever lead a national government in North America.

• Campbell spent only four months in office. Her Tories dramatically lost the 1993 election, landing dead last among five frontrunners with only two seats.

• Kim Campbell was born Avril Phaedra Douglas Campbell on March 10, 1947 in Port Alberni, B.C. She renamed herself Kim at the age of 12 after her mother and father divorced.

• A graduate of the University of British Columbia's faculty of law, Campbell worked as a lawyer in Vancouver before leaving to run for, and win, a seat in provincial politics in 1986. In 1988 she jumped to federal politics, becoming a Conservative MP for Vancouver Centre.

• Campbell made history in 1990 when she was named the first female Minister of Justice by Prime Minister Brian Mulroney. She would serve in Mulroney's cabinet until he stepped down in early 1993 - paving the way for her successful leadership bid.

• She beat out Jean Charest, Garth Turner and Patrick Boyer in June 1993 to become leader of the party and as a result, Prime Minister of Canada.

• Though she made headlines for her historic win, her downfall came hard and fast at the polls later that October.

• The PC party was nearly obliterated at the polling stations on Oct. 25, 1993. The Liberals, led by veteran Jean Chrétien, won 178 seats - one of the largest majority wins ever by the party.

• Led by Lucien Bouchard, the sovereigntist Bloc Québécois garnered 54 seats, enough to win Official Opposition status in the Parliament. The Reform Party, led by Preston Manning, won 52 seats most of which were located in Alberta and B.C.

• The New Democratic Party won a total of nine seats including that of its leader, Audrey McLaughlin.

• The PC party managed only two wins; Jean Charest in Sherbrooke and Elsie Wayne, in Saint John. Campbell lost her race in Vancouver Centre to Liberal candidate Hedy Fry by some 4,000 votes.

• Charest would eventually secure the party leadership after Campbell resigned in December 1993.

• There have been several explanations for Campbell's disastrous showing at the polls. Many blame Brian Mulroney's lingering unpopularity; at the time the economy was in a recession and the government was still reeling from the failure of the Meech Lake Accord and the implementation of the controversial Goods and Services Tax (GST).

• Others point to Campbell's inexperience, and a number of blunders during the 1993 campaign, for her party's miserable showing.

• When questioned by reporters about her failure to talk about the future of Canada's social policies, she infamously said "an election is no time to discuss serious issues."

• The Tories were also roundly criticized after they ran a TV commercial (featured in this clip) which questioned Jean Chrétien's leadership skills and used unflattering photos which emphasized his facial paralysis.

• Campbell resigned as Tory leader on December 14th, saying "Today is a time to move on, for me and for my party."

• While she served only 123 days in office, Kim Campbell was not the shortest-serving prime minister in Canadian history. That title belongs to Sir Charles Tupper, who was PM for the Conservative party for just 69 days in 1896.

• The runner-up was Liberal Party leader John Turner, who served as PM for 79 days in 1984.

• Since her resignation, Campbell lectured on politics at Harvard University and served as Canadian Consul General in Los Angeles.

• Though the 1993 Liberal landslide was monumental, it was not the largest majority in Parliament. That honour goes to the PC party, which won 211 of 282 seats in the 1984 general election with leader Brian Mulroney at the helm.


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