In Defence of OUR Prime Minister

Posted by Daniel on Jun 28, 2011 - 1 comment

I never thought I'd feel the need but let me say a few words in support of Kim Campbell, the only BC native (and the only woman) ever to serve as prime minister of Canada.

Macleans magazine (here) has published a survey of the "best" prime ministers and Ms Campbell finds herself at the very bottom. But is she really Canada's worst first minister?

Recall the situation she was in when she took office in June 1993, having won the leadership of the Conservative Party in a close contest with Jean Charest. She was taking over from Brian Mulroney, by that time one of the most detested prime ministers in the country's history. (One 1992 poll reported that only 11 percent of voters supported him, though ironically he is #9 on the Macleans list.) Campbell had been a senior cabinet minister so it was always going to be difficult for her to separate herself from her predecessor. And that November the worst happened; her Conservatives went down to an historic defeat at the polls, reduced to just two seats.

Admittedly Campbell did not campaign well, but I would argue that it was not her that Canadian voters were repudiating but Mulroney and his policies. In a sense she never really got a chance to be prime minister, though she held the job for a little over four months. It will be more than a little unfair if, because of the Macleans survey, she goes down as Canada's worst.