In Ottawa, Kim Campbell is sworn in as Canada’s 19th prime minister, becoming the first woman to hold the country’s highest office.
Born in Port Alberni, British Columbia, in 1947, Campbell studied law and political science before entering Canadian politics during the 1980s. In 1986, she was elected to the British Columbia legislature as a Conservative, and two years later she was appointed minister of Indian affairs by Prime Minister Brian Mulroney. In 1988, she became the first female to hold the office of Canadian attorney general and proved instrumental in the movement to increase gun control in Canada. In 1993, Campbell was appointed minister of national defense and veterans’ affairs.
Two months later, Prime Minister Mulroney announced his resignation, and Campbell was encouraged to run for the Conservative Party leadership. In a close contest, she was elected at a national convention on June 13 and on June 25 took office as Canada’s first female prime minister. Prime Minister Campbell won widespread public approval, but the Conservative mandate to govern had nearly expired, and she was forced to call for a general election to be held in October. On October 25, 1993, the Conservatives’ nine years as Canada’s ruling party came to a decisive end. Voters had become disenchanted with the party after enduring higher taxes and constitutional crisis under Mulroney, and the Conservatives were reduced to just two seats in the House of Commons. Campbell herself lost her Vancouver seat and retired from politics. She returned to academic life, accepting a fellowship at Harvard University. Later, she served as Canada’s Consul General to Las Vegas. She continues to hold a position as an honorary fellow at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.