Friday, December 12, 2008

Time and Chance - Book Review

Time and Chance
By Kim Campbell
Doubleday Canada 1996

During the last 8 years that I have been in Canada, I occasionally ran across the name of Kim Campbell. She was Canada's First Woman Prime Minister but she did not serve for very long in that position and then she vanished from the record. Her time as PM lasted barely 4 months. So when I came across her biography recently, I snapped it up.

Kim's real name was Averil Phaedra Douglas Campbell. She was born in British Columbia, Canada in 1947 and grew up with one older sister - Alix. When Kim was 12 years old, her mother put the girls into a boarding school, and then left her husband. The girls were devastated when they found out. Kim's reaction was to change her name from Averil to Kim.

Kim left the boarding school after that year and was enrolled in Prince of Wales Secondary School in Vancouver. After graduation she attended UBC majoring in Russian studies. Then she went to law school. She spent some time as a lawyer and then looked around for a new challenge. So she got elected to the Vancouver city council. From there she went to the BC provincial government and in 1988 she was elected to Ottawa in Brian's Mulroney's Conservative Government. This was Mulroney's second term as PM.

Once in parliament, Kim was very quickly promoted to the cabinet as Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development. A year later she was promoted to become first female Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of Canada(1990-1993). One of the cases that she worked on was the David Milgaard case. David had been accused of raping and killing a young women in 1972. Now 20 years later, David's mother was taking her sons case to the top to obtain justice.

In the end Kim had to release him because there was not enough evidence that he had actually committed the crime, several of the witnesses were now retracting their statements from 20 years before and there was also semen present that was not Davids - effectively putting someone else in the picture.

In 1993 after Mulroney shuffled his cabinet, Kim became the first female Minister of National Defence. Mulroney resigned in June 1993. At the Convention that same year, Kim was elected as the leader of the Conservative part. After Mulroney resigned, this effectively made Kim Prime Minister. She decided on October 25, 1993 for the election.

The second to last chapter goes into great details about the Conservative election campaign. With hind-site Kim explains why the Conservative party was beaten by a landslide, leaving only 2 (TWO) conservative seats in parliament.

Kim wrote this book as a means of healing herself from the grief of losing. Kim lost her own Vancouver seat as well as the national election.

After the election Kim spent time teaching at Harvard University, and doing various other law jobs. She currently lives in Paris, France with her common-law husband. Kim has been married and divorced twice but has never been able to have children.

This is a very frank and very well written book about her life before and in politics. Except for the election chapter, it was easy to read. The election chapter was slow going but I made it. I really enjoyed this book.

I read this book for the Canadian book Challenge.

No comments: