Kim Campbell


FAQs / Educational Resources

Especially for schoolchildren, future historians, and other interested parties.

What would you recommend a young person do to prepare to be Prime Minister?

Be the best person that you can be by following the things that interest you. Be curious and follow your interests.  Develop qualities in yourself like personal strength and become the type of person you would like to vote for if you were not the person running for Prime Minister.

Is there a way to get more females into politics?

That's a tough question and I do a lot of work in trying to encourage women to run for public life.  There are a lot of barriers that make it hard for women to run, particularly if they are responsible for their families.  For example, sometimes it's more difficult to travel.  There is a group called Equal Voice in Canada that's looking to to try to address some of the barriers that make it more difficult.  Perhaps the best thing I can do is to continue to be visible and tell women it is very exciting and rewarding.  If you have any interest in public life, all I have to say to you is, "Go for it!"

How did you learn about Canadian cultures when you were Prime Minister?

That's a great question.  You have to be inclusive and embrace everybody.  I grew up in Vancouver, so in that very multicultural city I had the opportunity to meet many different Canadians.  Also, being in politics was an education.  Of course, in my public life I traveled.  I went out,  met people and tried to learn as much as I could, but parliament itself also was an opportunity to learn about different Canadians because you sit with a microcosm of the country.  I think all politicians need to reach out and hear the voices of the many people that make up this country.

What motivated you to be Prime Minister?

Actually my motivation didn't start out as a motivation to be Prime Minister.  I started out in public life as a member of the Vancouver School Board.  I was elected to local government.  Then I went on to the provincial legislature.  Then I got elected to parliament and was in the cabinet.  So at each level of government I learned more about the country and I got more interested in the issues of public policy.  When there was an opportunity to run for the leadership of the party, I realized there were some wonderful things that I could have a chance to do as prime minister... things I couldn't do even as Justice Minister or Defence Minister.  So, as I participated in all three levels of government my interest grew, but when I started out, I didn't think of the prime ministership as my ultimate goal.

What was it like to be the first woman Prime Minister of Canada? What was your favorite moment as Prime Minister?

Being the first woman Prime Minister of Canada was a great honor, but I look forward to being able to congratulate the second, third and fourth female prime ministers.  It also was a challenge because I was redefining for many people the type of person they expected to be a leader. I took it very seriously that I was opening up possibilities for other female Canadians.  I can't think of any ONE favorite moment as Prime Minister.  Being sworn in and taking the oath knowing that I was the first woman to be sworn in as Prime minister was very exciting.  It was also wonderful to represent Canada at the G7 Summit in Tokyo.  Something that was very special to me was Canada Day in 1993 when I started in St. John's Newfoundland, and went across the whole country, stopping in Ottawa and winding up in my hometown of Vancouver.

When you were young, what did you want to be when you grew up?

When I was a teenager I was very interested in issues of world peace and I grew up during the Cold War, so when I was about 15 or 16 I decided that I would like to be Secretary General of the United Nations.  So, when I was little I didn't think about being prime minister, but I think I wanted to do something important with my life.  Of course, there are a lot of wonderful things that one can do, but I'm delighted that politics ended up being the path that I chose.

When you were young, who were your heroes?

One hero that I really admired when I was young was Winston Churchill.  I very much admired how much he did for his country.

Do you have a pet?

When I was a little girl I had a pet turtle named Shelly.  I now have a black standard poodle whom I love very much.  He is clever, funny and sometimes mischievous even now in his old age.  We all call him "The Wonderdog" and he tries hard to live up to his nickname.

Do you like music? Do you play an instrument?

I love music!  I play the cello, piano, and guitar and enjoy singing.  My husband, Hershey Felder, is an incredibly talented pianist and singer.  Shortly after we first met, he and I wrote a musical together called "Noah's Ark."


The following is a list of policies developed or influenced by Kim Campbell when she served in the three levels of Canadian government: Provincial, Federal & Municipal.

Member of the Vancouver School Board, 1981

  • Introduced International Baccalaureate Program into Vancouver Schools

Member of the Legislative Assembly, Vancouver, B.C., 1986

  • Successfully convinced Health Minister to change wording of new provisions of the Health Act that were causing concern in the gay community
  • Chaired a task force on heritage conservation. The task force came to be known as Project Pride; the work done by the task force was the basis of a new Heritage Act later passed by the NDP government
  • Chaired the review of the Builders' Lien Act; conducted public hearings that informed the amendments for the Builders Lien Act. "The process of reviewing the Builders' Lien Act was a good example of the kind of work backbenchers do in all legislatures that doesn't make headlines but contributes to good policy-making" (p. 76 Time and Chance)
  • Spoke out publicly against Premier Vander Zalm's decision to cut provincial funding for abortions

Minister of State for Indian Affairs and Northern Development, January 30, 1989 - February 22, 1990

  • Served on the Ad Hoc Committee on Sales Tax Reform
  • Took the lead on British Columbia issues focusing on housing and policing
  • Supported the Meech Lake Accord, which addressed Quebec's concerns about codifying constitutional amendments throughout Canada which might endanger the province's desire to preserve French language and culture
  • Renewed the stalled negotiating process for resolving the 18 land claims in British Columbia

Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, Priorities and Planning, and Political Minister for BC, February 23, 1990 - January 3, 1993

  • First Female Justice Minister and Attorney General in Canada.
    • Modeled a "Politics of Inclusion", bringing different groups together to discuss the issues, and working towards compromise
    • Convened first ever National Symposium on "Women, Law and the Administration of Justice" Vancouver
    • Co-chaired with the Minister of Justice of the Yukon Territory a national symposium on Aboriginal Justice, Whitehorse, 1992
    • Major and comprehensive amendments to gun control legislation (stricter requirements for ownership, storage of firearms), 1992
    • Introduced the Rape Shield Law, which protects a person's sexual past from being explored during trial and Oversaw Bill C-49, rape shield legislation (aka 'No Means No' law), 1992
    • Referred David Milgaard's Section 690 (Miscarriage of Justice) application to the Supreme Court of Canada

Minister of National Defence and Minister of Veterans Affairs, Cabinet Operations Committee, January 4, 1993 - June 24, 1993

  • First female Minister of National Defence
  • First female Minister of Veterans Affairs
  • Attended a NATO meeting for defence ministers that included ministers from former Warsaw Pact countries

Prime Minister: June 25, 1993 - October 24, 1993

  • First female Canadian prime minister
  • Cut the size of the cabinet from over 35 to 23 and consolidated ministries by creating three new portfolios: Health, Canadian Heritage and Public Security
  • First prime minister to convene a First Ministers' conference for consultation prior to representing Canada at the G7 Summit
  • Prime Minister Campbell met one-on-one with President Bill Clinton to discuss Canada-US Relations
  • Received the highest approval rating for a prime minister in 30 years

Other Activities and Notes

  • In 2004, Prime Minister Campbell was included in the Almanac of World History's list of fifty most important political leaders. The Almanac is published by the National Geographic Society.
  • In 2006, Prime Minister Campbell led a delegation from the Middle Powers Initiative (MPI) to Canada to advocate for the MPI's goal. The MPI is dedicated to the worldwide reduction and elimination of nuclear weapons, in a series of well-defined stages accompanied by increasing verification and control. Through the MPI, seven international non-governmental organizations are able to work primarily with "middle power" governments to encourage and educate the nuclear weapons states to take immediate practical steps that reduce nuclear dangers, and commence negotiations to eliminate nuclear weapons. The delegation met with key ministers and public servants in the Canadian government and testified before the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development. In addition, Prime Minister Campbell met privately with Prime Minister Harper to brief him on the issue.
  • In a 2006 interview with Lawrence Martin of the Globe and Mail, Prime Minister Campbell discussed the current government: "It was very clear in the last campaign that the Conservative Party tried to put a more centrist or moderate philosophy in the window," said Ms. Campbell. "Now, whether they can continue to do that, I don't know. If they can't and the more socially Conservative members of the caucus are able to impose an agenda, I don't think they will be able to survive as a government. It will be very, very hard." (15 June 2006).
  • On being Canadian: "I'm very proud to be a Canadian and I like to think that I'm an ambassador for Canadian values in whatever I do" (interview with Linda Mastalir 10 Oct 2006).

 And check out the video below done by Equal Voice, which promotions the election of more women to all levels of government in Canada.  This video was created for their Experiences mentorship program, which ran from 2009-2011.



What do you do now that you are no longer in politics?

Most of my time these days is spent serving as the Founding Principal of the Peter Lougheed Leadership College at the University of Alberta. We help university students develop their leadership skills.

I also give speeches and am involved in organizations all over the world that work on issues such as:

Democracy Promotion, which is helping other governments become democracies or become better democracies. You can learn more about this subject at Club of Madrid and World Movement for Democracy.

Women in Power, which is when women lead companies, organizations or governments. You can learn more about this subject at Council of Women World Leaders and Equal Voice. Additionally, you can learn more about the achievements of Canadian Women at The Library and Archives of Canada.

Climate Change refers to the changes in the world's climate that are, and will, negatively affect many people around the world. NASA has an explanation of it here. It is caused by things that humans are doing such as using energy that produces greenhouse gases.  The Climate Action Reserve works to "promote the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions...."

Nonproliferation is the effort to eliminate the spread of nuclear weapons in the world. You can learn more about this subject at Global Security Institute.

I have worked with the organizations listed above.  Additionally, I advise organizations on international relations and governance. You can learn more about these subjects at International Crisis GroupPacific Council on International Policy and EastWest Institute.  

What does Right Honourable mean? And what do the initials at the end of your name mean?

Right Honourable (or Rt. Hon. for short) is an honorific title given to Prime Ministers and other dignitaries in Canada, the UK and other countries. The word "Right" means "very." In Canada only three positions grant the title: Prime Minister, Governor General, and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada.

PC stands for Privy Council, which traditionally is the council of ministers who advice the monarch.

I was awarded the CC when I was honoured with the Order of Canada award. CC stands for Companion of the Order of Canada. There are three levels, or degrees, of the Order: Officer, Member and the highest--Companion. Only 165 people can hold this honour at any one time.

OBC stands for the Order of British Columbia, which I was awarded in 2012. I was honoured to be recognized in my home province, and very much enjoyed being surrounded by family, friends and longtime supporters during the investiture ceremony in Victoria.

QC is Queen's Counsel. Had I been Prime Minister during a male sovereign's reign, it would have been KC, or King's Counsel. QC is a title given to distinguished lawyers. My QC was given to me by the Government of British Columbia when I became Canada's first female Justice Minister in 1990.


Is this your coat of arms?

Yes. In 1995, to honour her public service, Kim Campbell was granted a personal coat of arms by the Queen. In the center of the crest is the international symbol of the woman with balanced scales of justice attached. Thus did Kim Campbell put her commitment to justice and equality for women at the center of the symbol of her life and career. She continues to live by her motto: "Seek wisdom, conquer fear, do justice".

SEE INFO SHEETS about Ms. Campbell's coat of arms.