A Guide to Women in Canadian History

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Kim Campbell (1947- )
Politician, 19th prime minister of Canada
Kim Campbell
Kim Campbell with her official portrait, 2004
(Copyright Merna Forster)

In 1993 Kim Campbell became Canada's nineteenth prime minister, the first woman in Canadian history to hold the post. She had previously served as Minister of State for Indian Affairs and Northern Development, Justice Minister (again the first female in this position), and Minister of National Defence and Veterans' Affairs. She is one of only two women in the world who has participated in a G-7 Summit.

Born in Port Alberni, B.C., Avril Phaedra Douglas Campbell grew up in Vancouver and studied political science at U.B.C. After continuing her education at the London School of Economics, Ms. Campbell earned a law degree and became involved in politics. She won a seat in the federal parliament in 1988 and accepted a Cabinet post the next year. During her years on the Hill Ms. Campbell played a key role in the drafting of an important new law regarding rape and was known as a champion of women's rights. When the Conservative government was swept from power in October 1993 after public discontent with many of its policies, Ms. Campbell lost her seat.

Kim Campbell retired from politics after her defeat, and began teaching at Harvard University. An accomplished scholar, she has five honorary doctorates. For four years she served as Consul General of Canada in Los Angeles. Ms. Campbell has played an active role in many international organizations, including the International Women's Forum (became president in 2003) and the Club of Madrid--of which she became the Secretary General in January 2004. Former heads of government have joined the latter group to promote the growth of democracy in the world. Ms. Campbell lectures frequently about women and leadership, and is also an author, consultant and corporate director.

Discover more

  • Kim Campbell: through the looking glass
    Jones, Michel (Director). National Film Board, video produced c. 2000. 71 min.
    A review of the film from the Canadian Review of Materials, Manitoba Library Association.
    Purchase from the NFB.

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