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The Right Honorable Kim Campbell

      . . . 19th Prime Minister of Canada. Before serving as Prime Minister in 1993, T.R.H. Kim Campbell also held cabinet portfolios as Minister of State for Indian Affairs and Northern Development, Minister of Justice and Attorney General and Minister of National Defence. Internationally, she participated in Commonwealth, NATO, G-7 and United Nations meetings. She served at all 3 levels of government and is known as a champion of women‚s rights. Ms. Campbell chairs the Council of Women World Leaders and works with the Center for Public Leadership at Harvard. She is a Senior Fellow of the Gorbachev Foundation of North America, is on a number of prestigious boards and is author of Time and Chance.

Excerpts4:06 secs

      Canada‚s Former Prime Minister Kim Campbell has seen democracy from all three levels of government in which she has served. It‚s cranky and messy and can be nasty. But having seen the alternative (as a Soviet specialist in the early ő70s,) she‚s quick to chose the state of flux. The alternative -- other people making decisions for you -- may be orderly, she says. But it‚s bleak.

      As the first woman to lead a North American government (in 1993,) The Right Honorable Ms. Campbell is known as a champion of women‚s rights, but is far from doctrinaire. To the extent that gender may provide valuable new approaches to doing things, she wants to have a look. But her deeper interest in gender is in dispelling stereotypes. She wants women and men to share the stage, with no one elbowed off. Ms. Campbell looks toward the day when women heads of state are no longer a curiosity. Until then, she works with organizations like the Council of Women World Leaders at Harvard, eager for women to be judged on their own merits.

      Being neighbor to the world‚s remaining superpower has its advantages -- Canada and America are each other‚s largest trading partners. And disadvantages -- Canada is often invisible to America. That‚s too bad, because Canada does democracy quite differently from the U.S. (as do other democratic nations). That could offer viable alternatives from which we can all learn. Having led one of the world‚s oldest democracies, T.R.H. Ms. Campbell assures us that the work of people learning how to govern themselves is never finished.

      This is no idle philosophizing on Ms. Campbell‚s part. Canada, like America, has significant cleavages which regularly lead Canadians to reconsider what kind of country they want to be. But Canada is not a country formed in revolution and they had no civil war -- family fights which she thinks foster America's myths as a way to get over the pain of divisions. Canada‚s younger, with a smaller population. And it was formed with 2 major cultural and linguistic groups, the rights of the French-Canadians protected by the British Crown all the way back in 1774. Those cultures have both evolved, along with Canada‚s more fluid (as compared to the U.S.), English-style Constitution, to which a written Bill of Rights was added only in 1980. Ms. Campbell speaks fondly of Canadians‚ deeply held feelings about their country and a notable sense of unity she contrasts to very real regional differences she has experienced in the U.S.

      Canada and the U.S. are two very different countries, she reminds us, both committed to a democratic ideal. The cost of that democracy?  TRH Kim Campbell says: we all have to stay engaged. When we press one thing down, another will pop up. But, she‚s convinced, that's the cost of being free. It may be annoying for those of us who are lazy, she admits, but she urges we think of it this way: it's a lot better than having somebody else do all the work for you.

Conversation 1

Former Prime Minister Kim Campbell tells Paula Gordon and Bill Russell how very different Canada is from (and often invisible to) the United States. TRH Ms. Campbell explains the many implications of Canada and America being each other‚s largest trading partner and describes some of the challenges of being neighbor to a superpower.


Conversation 2

The Former Prime Minister describes ways in which Canada and America see things differently, impressed by the overall orderliness of the relationship. She quotes John Kennedy, then compares Canadian/U.S. longevity to that of modern European states. She expands on the ramifications of Canada having not been formed in revolution, of having a small population and two major cultural/linguistic groups. She describes history‚s impact on present-day Canada, noting cleavages and successes living with them.


Conversation 3

TRH Ms. Campbell describes the government of Canada‚s commitment to French as a living language in North America. She notes the effect of regularly reviewing Canadians‚ different outlooks, describing Canadians‚ strong attachment to Canada and their shared values. She contrasts that to America‚s considerable regional variations. Ms. Campbell jokes about the larger world‚s perception of Canadians as unarmed Americans with health insurance, then describes the challenges of governing Canadians.  She uses health care as an example of Canadians‚ commitment to egalitarianism. She describes gun control issues in a country with no „frontier mentality.š


Conversation 4

Citing her own experience as Prime Minister, TRH Ms. Campbell reflects on perceptions of women‚s styles of leadership. She recalls how she looked for common ground with people across a broad spectrum of issues and positions. She contrasts Canada‚s (parliamentary) form of government to America‚s. She links „respectš to the importance of remembering that politics affects real people. Using examples from her experience as Cabinet Minister for the Justice Department, she considers the strengths of the parliamentary system. She compares her service at all 3 levels of government. Certain that crankiness accompanies democracy, Ms. Campbell recalls her path to public service.


Conversation 5

TRH Ms. Campbell describes the Council of Women World Leaders, which she leads, providing examples from around the world of non-stereotypical women. She talks about gender in a larger context, where femininity and competence are often placed at loggerheads with each other. She considers how reflecting women‚s perspectives is a question of democracy and points to ways women differ from each other. She wonders what, in fact, the overall impact of more women in government might be, noting men‚s contributions to truth, beauty and goodness. She talks about where gender issues do seem to matter, starting with the importance of educating women.


Conversation 6

TRH Ms. Campbell considers what America might learn from Canada, starting with the role of financial barriers to entry into American‚s political system. She describes how France and Scotland are working to bring women into their political processes. Ms. Campbell speaks to the need for institutions to be more inclusive, suggesting what America might learn from the experiences of other countries working to be more democratic. She explains why Canadians can approach democracy as a „work in progress,š reminding us of every democracy's need for eternal vigilance.


Acknowledgements

During a recent trip to Atlanta, T.R.H. Kim Campbell added „one more thingš to her already challenging schedule, in order to join us for this conversation. It was a great pleasure for us (all) and we thank her most heartily.

Astrid Y. Pregel, the Consul General of Canada serving the 7 Southern United States, Puerto Rico and the American Virgin Islands, made this program possible. We are very grateful, indeed.

The work of Consul General Pregel‚s outstanding staff, including Mary Jane King, Denis Langlois and Leanne Hastings, made the process flawless.

We thank the individuals and applaud Canada, on all counts.

We also thank Linda Muir for introducing us to Consul General Pregel when she took up her post in Atlanta.

Related Links:
There are more information and links to other Canadian sites at the Atlanta Consulate General website


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