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Inside the office of backbencher Kim Campbell

The Story

Almost immediately, Kim Campbell has gone from Social Credit backbencher to media magnet. In 1988, the Supreme Court of Canada strikes down the law prohibiting abortions as unconstitutional. But B.C. Premier Bill Vander Zalm is unyielding and says that his province will not fund abortions. Campbell, representing the riding of Vancouver-Point Grey, is the first MLA to raise opposition to the leader of her party. CBC cameras follow the outspoken Campbell as she defends her pro-choice decision as she makes headlines across the country. 

Medium: Television
Program: CBC News
Broadcast Date: March 15, 1988
Guest(s): Kim Campbell
Reporter: Wayne Williams
Duration: 5:02

Did You know?

• CBC Reporter Wayne Williams later recalled of this interview, "I remember the look on her face. There was fear, because this was a big step for her. She averted her eyes, but once we began, we had no difficulty getting her to talk." (Ottawa Citizen, March 27, 1993.)
• Six other members of Vander Zalm's caucus later joined Campbell in opposition on this issue.

• Campbell told the Globe and Mail at the time, "If you look at Vander Zalm's appeal, it comes from the sense that he tells it like it is. I don't understand that view. I don't believe that all convictions are created equal, especially when they come from a narrow, bigoted opinion. He's glamorized his convictions, but his convictions are full of it."

• Vander Zalm responded by telling reporters, "We're going through difficult times in the sense that we're facing difficult issues, and this, I guess, is the most difficult. People will say things during times like this that they may regret later on. And I'm not going to get into that." (Vancouver Sun, March 11, 1988.)

• Vander Zalm later dropped his non-funding policy after a public outcry.

• Campbell and Vander Zalm had a publicly contentious relationship, the roots of which were sown during the 1985 Social Credit leadership race. Inexperienced but determined, Campbell threw her hat into the ring alongside the higher profile candidates like Vander Zalm and Grace McCarthy. Campbell attacked Vander Zalm at a party convention for being more style over substance.

• She said at the leadership convention, "It is fashionable to speak of political leaders in terms of their charisma. But charisma without substance is a dangerous thing. It creates expectations that cannot be satisfied. Then comes bitterness and disillusionment that destroy not only the leader but the party." Campbell was the only candidate to receive a standing ovation that night.

• But in the end, Campbell came last in the leadership contest of 12, capturing only 14 votes.


Kim Campbell: First and Foremost more