Image from National Speakers' Bureau
Kim Campbell, Canada's 19th Prime Minister, was born about as far west as you can get, in Port Alberni, BC. She attended St. Anne's Academy, a Roman Catholic boarding school in Victoria.
A lady of firsts, at age ten, Kim was interviewing guests and moderating panels for a 9-week Junior TV series. Later, at Prince of Wales Secondary School in Vancouver, she became the first female Student Council president. At UBC in 1964, she was the first female Frosh president, and later became the second vice president of the Alma Mater Society.
In 1969, Campbell graduated from UBC with an Honours degree in Political Science, and a year later, she was taking Soviet Studies and learning Russian at the London School of Economics. It was here that she began to consider herself a "philosophical conservative."
In 1980 Kim Campbell began her legal studies, emerging from UBC three years later with an LLB. Before entering politics, she was a lecturer at UBC and VCC and a CBC radio correspondent. In the mid-eighties, she became Executive Director of the Premier's office for Bill Bennett.
Her own political career began at the Municipal level, as a Vancouver School Board trustee. She then ran for the BC Social Credit party, and lost. When she ran for the party leadership, she was defeated by Bill Vander Zalm, who became Premier.
In 1986, Campbell was elected and became the Social Credit MLA for Vancouver-Point-Grey and joined the majority Socreds in the BC legislature. In 1988, she moved to federal politics, representing the riding of Vancouver Centre following the "free trade election," which returned Mulroney to power with a second majority.
In 1989-90 Campbell was Minister of State for Indian Affairs and Northern Development; in 1990, she became Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, the first woman to hold that post. In 1993, she became the first female Minister of National Defence and Veterans' Affairs.
When Mulroney retired in early 1993, the Conservative mandate was nearly over and there was little time to prepare for an election. Though Mulroney backed Jean Charest in the leadership bid, Campbell won and in June she became the Prime Minister, another first.
But this was a first that did not last: in the September election Campbell lost her seat and the Conservative presence in Parliament was reduced to two seats. Only Elsie Wayne from Nova Scotia and Jean Charest from Quebec were left from the old party, For Kim Campbell, her stint as Prime Minister had been literally a summer job.
Jean Chretien, the incoming Prime Minister, allowed Ms. Campbell some time to organize her departure from parliament, and later assigned her to a post in Los Angeles as Canadian Consul-General. This was another first: Campbell was the first ex-PM to be given a diplomatic post.
Since her departure from that position, Campbell has taught at Harvard and chaired the Club of Madrid, as well as the Council of Women World Leaders and the International Women's Forum.
Kim Campbell has been given many honorary degrees and other awards. For a lifetime of outstanding achievement, merit and service, she was made a Companion of the Order of Canada in 2010.