When it comes to blazing the trail for women, the Right Honourable Kim Campbell's career includes many milestones. From 16, when she became the first female student body president of her high school, until 30 years later, as the first female prime minister of Canada at 46, Ms. Campbell has spent much of her life breaking barriers for women.
Not only does Ms. Campbell still hold the distinction of being Canada's first and only female Prime Minister, she is also the first Canadian Prime Minister to have held office in all three levels of government: Municipal, Provincial, and Federal. The Right Honourable Kim Campbell has held the cabinet portfolios of Minister of State for Indian Affairs and Northern Development, Minister of Justice and Attorney General, Minister of National Defence--the first woman to have held such a position in any NATO country--and Minister of Veterans' Affairs. Additionally, the breadth of her international experience includes participation in major international meetings such as the Commonwealth, NATO, the G-7 Summit, and the United Nations General Assembly.
After her tenure as Prime Minister, Ms. Campbell continued to serve Canada as a diplomat and was a Fellow at the Institute of Politics (Spring 1994) and the Joan Shorenstein Center for the Study of Press and Politics (1994-1995) at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard. Then, she served as the Canadian Consul General in Los Angeles from 1996-2000. In 2001 Ms. Campbell became a Fellow at the Center for Public Leadership at the Kennedy School and then was invited to join the faculty as a lecturer and remains an Honorary Fellow.
For a detailed account of Ms. Campbell's accomplishments, visit her biography.
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Note: Voice-to-text transcriptions are about 90% accurate, and conversations-to-text do not always translate perfectly. I include it to provide you with the spirit of the conversation.
Scott Allen 0:00
Okay everyone, welcome to Phronesis; Practical Wisdom for Leaders. Thank you so much for checking in today, we have a very special episode. We have a very special guest. When it comes to blazing the trail for women, the Right Honourable Kim Campbell's career includes many milestones. From the age of 16, when she became the first female student body president of her high school, until 30 years later, as the first female Prime Minister of Canada at the age of 46, Ms. Campbell has spent much of her life breaking barriers for women. Not only does Ms. Campbell still hold the distinction of being Canada's first and only female prime minister, she is also the first Canadian Prime Minister to have held office in all three levels of government; municipal, provincial, and federal. The Right Honourable Kim Campbell has held the cabinet portfolios of Minister of State for Indian Affairs and Northern Development, Minister of Justice and Attorney General, Minister of National Defense -- the first woman to have held such a position in any NATO country, and Minister of Veterans Affairs. Additionally, the breadth of her international experience includes participation in major international meetings, such as the Commonwealth, NATO, the G7 summit, and the United Nations General Assembly. After her tenure as Prime Minister, Ms. Campbell continued to serve Canada as a diplomat, and was a fellow at the Institute of Politics, and the Joan Shorenstein Center for the Study of Press and Politics at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard. Then, she served as the Canadian Council General in Los Angeles from 1996 to 2000. In 2001, Ms. Campbell became a fellow at the Center for Public Leadership at the Kennedy School, and then, was invited to join the faculty as a lecturer. And she remains an Honorary Fellow. I am going to put so much more in the show notes. There is a wonderful, wonderful narrative and a wonderful story that she brings, and you can find all of that information in the show notes. Whether it's her attendance and adventures at the University of British Columbia, whether it is her serving as the chair of the Council of Women World Leaders, it's just an incredible story. Ms. Campbell, thank you so much for being with us today. We really, really appreciate your time. What else should listeners learn about you? I know that you have a dog named Leo.
Kim Campbell 2:17
Yes, he’s sitting right here as we're speaking. The problem with getting older is that the introductions sometimes get longer than the speeches because you've done so much. The only thing I would say is I've done a lot of things, and I wrote a memoir called ‘Time and Chance,’ which, actually, is available on Kindle if anybody has an interest in reading it. But I think what's important, and what I would say to people given that I've been out of office for a long time, is that sometimes when people aspire to leadership positions, they feel that, if those positions come to an end, that will be a disaster, or they will no longer be important, or they will… Whether they were a CEO, or a prime minister, or whatever it was that they did that enabled them to be leaders. But I think, for me, politics, there is no tenure in politics. Many fine people have had their political careers come to an end as a result of the vagaries of the electorate, so that can happen. But what I found when I was out of the office was that I went back to think about what had been important to me in my life, and the things I've done since I've been out of office, and this is 30 years this year. It was very consistent that I went into politics because I cared about democracy, I cared about public policy, I was a daughter of two World War II veterans, I wanted to be part of processes that made sure that that didn't happen again. And so, all of the things that I've done since are very consistent with those values. And a lot of former presidents or prime ministers -- we actually created an organization called The Club of Madrid, which is a group of former democratically elected presidents and prime ministers -- that we find ways to use what we've learned with our knowledge, or experience, or access and our clout, to continue to promote the values that drew us to public life in the first place. So, the first thing I would say to anybody who's looking at my career, and counting the years, which is my political career and where we are now, is that you never stop, you just simply find new ways of doing things, and expressing the values, and getting the satisfaction that you get out of trying to be a constructive player in the world. And I used to sometimes give a talk called ‘Leading after leaving.’ And actually, I once gave that talk at a university, and a man came to me after he said, “You know, I'm going to be retiring as a CEO in a few months, and your speech was just for me because I realized that I now have resources that I can use in different ways now.” So that's the long answer to a short question, which is still trucking, just doing the things that have always mattered to me.
Scott Allen 4:41
Well, something that I came across when I was doing my research for our conversation is that you've described yourself as painfully shy. And I think, at times, we have this image of leaders as being always extroverted, and these charismatic, just out front boisterous individuals. And I just loved that you disclosed that, that, “You know what? I can be someone who prefers introversion, I can be someone who naturally is a little bit more shy, and I can lead at the highest levels in the globe.”
Kim Campbell 5:10
I think a lot of leaders are shy personally, and there are a couple of reasons. One, if you are in a public position, you're not really quite sure what people really think of you because they see you in that position. So, you will often be a bit diffident in your personal relationships. But I also think, for me, doing leadership things helped me overcome my shyness. If I had a role to play, and if I had agreed that I would organize something, or do something, that enabled me to transcend any shyness I might have because I wasn't asking for things for myself, I was asking for them for the show we were putting on, or the project that we were doing. So, there are ways in which having a title or having some kind of designation that establishes your role can help you to overcome a sense of shyness, and maybe even a lack of self-confidence. We all, and especially in this world of social media, and people judging and trolling, etc., it's very easy to have your confidence eroded. But I think that one of the reasons that a lot of leaders seek to lead and go into politics is because they feel that this will enable them to be the kind of person they'd like to be. That they will have a reason to speak, be seen, and to act, and it will be a less personal thing. And even the rejections that you have are not personal rejections; they go with the territory. So, I don't think I'm so shy now. And I think, partly, it's because, over the years, I've come to understand that, well, first of all, that I don't need to be so shy, but also, that people are interested in meeting me, and that interested in them to meet me, maybe because I've got a historical artifact or something, that gives me an opportunity to connect in a meaningful way with people. And I think that's something that we all crave, is meaningful interaction with other human beings where we can learn, share, and get that kind of satisfaction and reinforcement.
Scott Allen 7:12
Well, you have been leading for decades, and I believe it started in high school if I'm not mistaken. What is the source of your interest in throwing your hat in the ring and getting involved in engaging? And what I love about even what you've said so far, is that, “You know what? That service lasts a lifetime.” I may have served in a few roles that had a significant level of prominence, and I can continue making a difference in the world throughout my life. But this has been something that is in you since you were very, very young. Is there a source of that? Is there anything that you can point to?
Kim Campbell 7:50
Well, there is, and it's interesting because, when I was young, both my parents were in uniform in World War II. And I'm talking to you from Italy, where my father served in the Canadian Army in World War II, and was wounded here but happily survived, or my sister would have been an only child. And, in fact, next month, my sister and I will be in Italy together for the first time, and we're going to Ravenna to put flowers on the grave of my father's closest friend who was killed here. So, my mother horrified her mother by enlisting in the wrens as soon as women were allowed to join the Canadian Navy. My grandmother didn't think girls should join the Navy, and my mother didn't want to stay home and roll bandages; she wanted to do something. So, she trained as a wireless operator and was stationed in various places to track the transmissions in German. U boats, and then North Atlantic, and Gulf of St. Lawrence. And she met my father during the war, and they got married, and my father enlisted in 1939 and spent the rest of the war lobbying to get sent overseas. And, in the fall of 1944, he finally was. But because of their stories, and the thought that World War II was such a big deal, and, in my childhood, it was in movies, and TV, and books, and whether it was the battles, and the hit, or Holocaust, all of these things, it was just front and center as an important issue. So, I also wanted to do something bigger than my own life. My dad used to say that, when they went to war, he said, “We weren't heroes. We just knew there was a job that had to be done.” And I think about this today with Ukrainians, all these amazing people who have had to give up their civilian lives and take up role with the military because there's a job that has to be done. And sometimes, there isn't really any other choice; somebody else takes the choice away from you. But I think that's a form of heroism in itself; the ability not to look away, or the inability to look away, perhaps, is another way of saying it and feeling a sense of responsibility. And taking that on even knowing that the risks could be really terrible for you. And I think, when I was young, I felt a sense of responsibility. I didn't want this to happen again, and I would read books about the wars, and about the Holocaust, and I would think, this was somebody who was just like me, with a consciousness like me, and it would almost overwhelm me. I would feel almost overcome by the reality of what it meant for people to suffer, particularly from things over which they had no control, at the mindless violence. So, I wanted to be part of a world or part of something in the world that could push back against that. I didn't know how to do that. But I also, I think, when I was in high school, I got involved in student government, but it was just like organization stuff…
Scott Allen 10:28
But you got involved.
Kim Campbell 10:29
But, when I was in the 10th grade, and they were having the election for the school president for the next year, a woman ran, a girl, and she was defeated and everybody said, “Oh well, a girl can't be president.” And I thought, “What do you mean ‘a girl can't be president'?” So, the next year, I ran, really partly, to make the point that a girl could be president. Like, “How dare you say that a girl can't be president. Maybe no girl has ever been President, but why couldn’t she be?” And I defeated two male candidates, and I got more than half of the vote. So, it wasn't a matter of who was going to vote. But it was a big deal; the local newspaper came to interview me, “Kim takes on a boy.” It was kind of silly. But I did it sort of partly, and I did the same thing the next year when I went to UBC. And there was this very obnoxious man… We went to something called ‘Frosh retreat,’ that’s people who had been student leaders of their high schools were invited to go to a retreat that first weekend at orientation at UBC, and there was this kind of obnoxious who kept walking and said, “I'm going to be Frosh President.” And I thought, “You’re not the sort of person who should be Frosh President.” I ran for Frosh President and I got elected. So, it was just kind of these things where it wasn't even so much that I wanted to be important, it just irritated me that that person… But I guess I felt I wanted to break barriers for women, and I did that. And eventually, for two years, I served as vice president of the society. And then I thought, “I think I better graduate,” so I gave up Student Government and focused on being a student. But I think it was this sense of responsibility that I can't pretend I don't see the problem. So, that is why, today, I feel, in some cases, in the slew of despond because I see all of these issues, climate change being perhaps most important. The future of our planet is at stake, and how people cannot be exercised about it boggles my mind, but the threats to democracy. I was a Soviet specialist in my youth; that was my discipline…
Scott Allen 12:22
Kim Campbell 2:23
… Soviet Union in 1972. And watching what's happening there, that worries me. In other words, I can't pretend I don't see things. I often say to my husband, “I can't pretend to know what I know.” So, I try to find ways of playing a constructive role. When we created the Club of Madrid, an organization of former presidents or prime ministers, and that was just over 20 years ago. And it was a more optimistic time that we felt that we were actually moving into it a new wave of democratic development. But we knew that, as former leaders, we could not change the world in the sense that we didn't have levers of power in our hands. But there sometimes can be a certain power in powerlessness because you don't have to… There are a lot of things you don't have to respond to anymore; you’re not running for election, you could be freer. But I used to say, if we can, in the club of Madrid, be a tile in the mosaic of progress, that's the thing. Because, when you think of all the things that go into moving the world ahead to greater justice for people, greater opportunity for people, better health for people, all sorts of… Veteran governance for people in their societies, there are so many different factors, and the notion that any one person… I think any one person, or a single person, can be a great detriment about -- Vladimir Putin, not talking about you -- if people, they get a certain kind of power, it's not all that easy to save the world. And even Winston Churchill, for all he was admired, and he had, again, the moral clarity to understand what was happening across the English Channel, he would have been the first to say that this was not something that he could do alone. When he talked about the Battle of Britain, he had never had so many owed so much to so few. We all have to participate in that. I think it’s the other thing I would say to people when it comes to leadership, you need to find where you can make a difference and where you have some skills, some interests, or some passions that can make a contribution. And there are so many different ways of doing that, so many different fields. And that you shouldn't always compare yourself to others and say, “Oh, I should be like that person and do it.” Well, if what that person is doing what you'd like to do, go for it. But we all have different ways of seeing the world, and it is very important to say, “What am I responsible for? And how could I make things better? And where would my skills be best applied?”
Scott Allen 14:47
Yes. You started to talk about Ukraine, and Putin, and some of these contextual shifts, climate change. I know you've spent some time at the Kennedy School, so I know you've come across Dr. Barbara Kellerman. And she talks about the leadership system, that it is a relationship between the leader, the followers, and the context. And I think what I would love to hear from you is, what are some contextual shifts you've ever seen in the last 30 years that some of those seismic forces impact leaders today in their ability to be successful? It's pretty fascinating, the context right now.
Kim Campbell 15:27
Well, I think social inequality has been very difficult. And I think, for people of my generation, the baby boomer generation, where we experience some of the best of the postwar decades in terms of growing economic opportunity and equality, that we may sometimes be blind to the extent to which that has changed, and that the consensus that democratic societies needed to lift one another up. You think, now, what some people, particularly in the United States, but also in Canada, to some degree, think of as being unacceptable levels of taxation, which are so small compared to the levels of taxation that were imposed in the decades after the war when there was phenomenal economic growth and phenomenal expansion of high-quality public education. And I remember when Sputnik happened in 1957, there was a great investment into teaching sciences, mathematics, etc. But they were just, generally, they understood that, if you wanted a prosperous and innovative society, we needed to address the cost of education; we needed to help people not be facing hunger. And I think that inequality has grown enormously, and that has a terribly negative effect. And there was a time when, if somebody wanted to be rich, they would aspire to have, perhaps, a wonderful home in the city, and maybe a lovely country house, and maybe even a boat, and the money to take their family and travel abroad regularly, buy their wife a fur coat. Those are the sorts of things, but now, people's concept of what it is to be wealthy is orders of magnitude greater. I remember reading the story about Barbara Emil who was married to Conrad Black, and they were having a dinner in New York, and they had to fly back to London. And she was humiliated that they had to leave the party early to go and get their first-class flight at JFK to fly to London because what it meant was they didn't have their own plane. I think when we look at what people think wealth is now, it is so beyond what anybody's expectations ever were. And it comes at the cost of much less contribution to society as a whole. Trickle down, and economics has been discredited, up, down, sideways. We know it doesn't work, and it's a cruel idea because, in fact, it's not how companies or individuals behave. They don't invest; they buy back their company shares, and they buy the most expensive things that they can. The heartedness towards the labor force now, it kind of takes me back to what I used to read about in the pre-World War II days, or even the late 19th century. But that inequality has created a festering resentment, and even the whole White supremacy thing. White men blame Black people for the fact that a White man can't, necessarily, support his family on a single job. That those expectations that existed several decades ago aren't there anymore, and they need to try to find somebody to blame, but the person to blame isn't the other people in the labor force. The person to blame is the people who are making the policy and who are trying to persuade those who make the policy that, the more money they get to keep, the better it will be for everybody, but it's not. And it’s funny, I met the Progressive Conservative Party, and I may sound like a flaming socialist; I'm not, because I actually do believe that a properly working, properly regulated capitalist market economy is the best, but it's the properly regulated part that people sometimes forget. I think we never read Adam Smith and his views about people's right to be rewarded with the fruits of their labor. So that's part of it. The other, of course, is the whole communications revolution. Social media, the internet, social media, the speed with which information travels, the speed with which disinformation travels, We've always had that. You go back even to the end of the 18th century when newspapers and broadsheets came out, and people were scandalous, scurrilous, and all this kind of stuff. It's just that the speed and scope of it is so much greater. I think, one of the things that we understand more now is the psychology of cognition and how we respond to things. So, we can see, perhaps, ways of counteracting that. I created a leadership college at the University of Alberta. And in the main course, it offered, and it was a multidisciplinary course, a wonderful program; they included a program called Foundations of Leadership. And, one of the things that we taught the students was that the way you think, you think is an entitled thing, and here are the cognitive biases that gave way to making the judgments that you need to make. And so, we've had a lot more… I got into this whole area. Actually, when I was at the Kennedy School, I was teaching a course called Gender and Power because I was very interested in how gender stereotypes play out and the insidiousness of that because I had experienced that as the first woman prime minister candidate. And sexism doesn't consist of people saying, “Oh, we don't think a woman should do it,” it consists of not giving a woman the benefit of the doubt, criticizing her, applying double standards to her, criticizing her in different ways for things that you would never criticize a man for. So, you're not actually saying, “We don't like we're doing this,” but you're expressing your discomfort with the fact that somebody who looked and sounded like that had never done that job before, and they pushed against your expectations of who should do that job. So, all of that comes back to the fact that we have had a revolution in research and social cognitive psychology which can help us to push back on some of this stuff. But the tsunami of information and disinformation is really a challenge. So, the circumstances, the contexts in which people are trying to meet today are, as always, a lot more difficult than they were in my day. And I thought I had my challenges or problems, but I think, today, they are multiplied.
Scott Allen 21:53
Well, it's a multibillion-dollar industry, that tsunami, disinformation, and information, and it's a fascinating contextual shift.
Kim Campbell 22:05
The other thing too is that I don't even know how to describe this because I’ve been thinking a lot. I might even write something about the changing narratives of my life, and how I see the world has grown and developed as I get older. But I was very shocked a number of years ago when I learned that oil company leaders had known since the late 70s the effect of burning fossil fuels. Their own scientists told them that there… People had been talking about that - putting carbon dioxide in the air might be a problem back in the 19th century, but I doubt they ever imagined the speed with which industrialization could take place and how much it is. So, there are orders of magnitude. But, when these leaders learned this, they made the changes that they thought they needed to make for their own companies; strengthening their pipelines over time, etc. But that they deliberately funded organizations to obfuscate the science, not to say it wasn't true, but to say it wasn't certain. And, of course, if you're a policymaker, you're a political leader, it's very difficult to make decisions if people can question the factual basis. They say, “Well, why are you doing that? You're overreacting; this isn't really true, and so, and so, was right.” And I thought a very interesting example, it's hard to believe, and I would say to myself, “What do they tell their grandchildren?” Because we're seeing the effects of this now, but, just recently, the Dominion voting machines libel case, and the revelation of the communications among leaders in Fox News was a very perfect example. And it's out of their mouths, we don't even have to draw inferences, that they knew the claims of voter fraud were not true, they knew that Biden had legitimately went the election, but they were afraid, or they would not tell the truth because they were afraid of losing market share, they were afraid of losing their audience. They knew. They knew that allowing those kinds of untruths to be disseminated was weakening to democracy. The very rule of law that enabled them to do business, contracting, call the police if they were… All of the things that this modern society gives to them were under threat if people lost faith in democratic institutions as a result of lies being told, and they saw that, and it was practically boiled down to greed. So, you think, “Well, how could people do that? How could the people have allowed people to lie? How could they have created false stories about climate change when they knew what was involved? I think one of the things I never really appreciated was the power of greed. And it goes back to this whole question of people's concept of wanting to be wealthy, what being wealthy means. There was a time when somebody who was a commentator on the television was well-paid and probably popular, and maybe got speaking fees after they left. If they were opinionated people, they could take speaking fees if it was Walter Cronkite. In other words, they would be well set up. They would certainly be comfortable. But that doesn't seem to be enough now; they want more. And the cost of that is the sacrifice of principles, and it makes me angry, but it also makes me so sad because I think… As I say, I'm in Italy, going to go pay tribute to one of my father's comrades who died. I'm actually going to be doing it with my dad's regiment; they're coming to the tour, the Italian battlefields to mark the 80th anniversary of the Sicily landings. You think of all those young men who lie on the fields, Although, most of them are the young men who lied on the battlefields. Although women died a lot, but in different contexts more. But all those young men who never got a future, and in Canada, all of the people who lie in war graves around the world who were Canadians, lie in war graves were all volunteers because we had the inscription put, “Not for overseas service.” We couldn’t send [Inaudible 26:04] overseas. So every one of them that came, came willingly knowing what the risk was. And I think, all the price that we paid for this, and people who just… What was the Bible story of Esau who sold his birthright for a mess of pottage, sell the birthright of your democracy for raises, for more money?
Scott Allen 26:27
Something I need to learn more about is the FCCs, the Fairness Doctrine. And when that was eliminated in the United States, I think that opened the floodgates for “news entertainment” on both sides, and it just opened the floodgates. And I need to learn more about that because I think you're right.
Kim Campbell 26:50
I watched that for many years. And some people have said to me, “Well, no, that didn't make that much of a difference.” But I find it hard to believe that it didn’t because I would have to remember when that norm applied. There are other things, too in terms of the changing technologies, of broadcasting, and that kind of stuff. But I'm with you on that, and so, I encourage you to get into that issue because I think it was… I don't know whether what could ever turn the clock back and bring something like that back in. We always had newspapers that were more one party than another.
Scott Allen 27:22
Kim Campbell 27:23
And we had those kinds of biases. But I think, in Canada, we always felt that the broadcast spectrum belongs to the public, and it wasn't just there. We hoped that people could invest in it and make a living to provide us with services, but it had a broader responsibility. I think that was the basis of the FCC Fairness Doctrine too.
Scott Allen 27:43
Hmm. As you reflect on leading at different levels -- I'm fascinated by the role that you served in as Prime Minister, and whether it's navigating stress, whether it's decision making, whether it's negotiation, you're at the top of your game, and it's a very, very serious game at that level -- as you think about leaving at some of these different levels, what are some of the significant differences? As you move into the role of Prime Minister, what maybe even surprised you just simply about leading? (Laughs) You found yourself saying, “Wow, I didn't expect this.”
Kim Campbell 28:25
Well, it’s not that I didn't expect it, but I was really struck by the fact that, as soon as I was elected leader of the party, which was about 12 days before I was sworn in as Prime Minister, our party was governing, so I became the leader of the governing party, Prime Minister-elect, or Prime Minister Designate, I think it was called then, but that even people that you've known and worked with don't treat you the same. All of a sudden, you have power over whether they go into a cabinet, various things, and that's hard. And I understood, even more deeply than I ever had, why a lot of politicians, they're often accused of having their old cronies around. When I was a Soviet specialist, even Brezhnev had his old World War II pals around him. And if you looked at the Soviet Union, if you wanted to see who was advancing, you looked at whose circle of friends was also advancing because, the more powerful you become, the less easy it is to know who's your friend and who isn't. And so, the people who knew you when, and who have known and loved you, warts and all, and will still be there when the power goes away, they will, that you those are more important. And that’s why good spousal relationships are important too. That's very often why you don’t see the president's wife or somebody seems to be so important, but it's really a level of trust. So that's part of it. But the other thing I would say is that I think having had the opportunity to serve at all three levels was useful because, at the municipal level in Vancouver, it's not highly partisan. They didn't correspond to the parties at a provincial and federal level. And the way the bodies work, so [Inaudible 30:14] I certainly had one vote. And we have a weak mayor system the mayor has one vote on the council. So, you had to work with other people. And, when you're serving at the municipal level, your constituents are right there. So, if they're unhappy about things, and you might think that it's worse for City Councils because of potholes, but actually, people are passionate about their schools. And when we had our open meetings, which we had regular people would exercise…you know, angry parents not to be trifled with. But what's good about that is that, if you're learning to be a politician at that level, you understand clearly that you're there to serve people and who they are. And you don't go somewhere else, you're right there. It creates, I think, a very healthy relationship and a healthy understanding of who you are as a democratic representative. When I served in the provincial legislature, I served in Vancouver, the legislature was in Victoria, so I had to go back and forth. And that was interesting. But the thing about that that was so interesting was, of course, getting to know people from all over my province at that time. And one of the things that it does is that it opens up your mind, and even more so, when you go to serve at the national level, Canada and the United States are both enormous countries, so when you go off to Washington unless you're from the extremes of Washington, you've got a distant role, and they accuse you, they say, “Oh, you went to Ottawa.” But what happens when you go to these levels, it’s, all of a sudden, you have a crash course in all of the other people who care about issues, and maybe don't see things the way you do, not because, necessarily, they're a different party, and have a different ideological perspective, but because the interests of their community are different. It was very interesting, when I was justice minister and dealing with gun control; I was from Vancouver Centre, a city where people didn't want to have guns, and where it was so easy for people to think that anyone that had ever had a gun was a nascent homicidal maniac. But throughout the country, there are a lot of people who live in rural areas where they did hunting. My grandfather was a dentist in a small town on Vancouver Island. Every year, he would bag a deer, and my grandmother would can the meat, whatever, and my mother often said that she grew up playing games, and my grandfather would shoot things. He was a gentleman. I think our gun culture was different. We didn't have any sense we had a right to a gun, but there were a lot of circumstances of which normal, law-abiding, nice people had firearms. And that can be kind of a shock to your system if you have resorted to that the only people who have that are people who shouldn't have guns. There are so many different issues that you discover that there are different ways of looking at them, and you have to kind of sort out what are the truths and the key issues that you need to know to do your job. So, for example, as Minister of Justice, I brought in an analysis piece of gun control legislation, but I did it in significant consultation with people all across the country, like the Ministers Advisory Council for firearms to show that I wasn't captive in any one particular group. So, it was chaired by a former Justice Minister, and the vice chairs were retired Chief of Police of Winnipeg, a woman who had won the Olympic gold medal at the pistol shoot. I had people who were experts in urban violence. I had indigenous people. I had somebody who was a technical expert in firearms, all to come and advise me. They were particularly to help me develop the regulations. But the point is that you get to know your community. And, for me, having served first in the province, and then, in the country, was a very interesting step that allowed me to build some levels of knowledge that were very, very, very helpful. And, I think, the most important thing when you get into power is to understand that you don't know everything and to figure out how you're going to learn what you need to know. What are the sources of knowledge and information that you can rely upon? How do you draw around you the people who will help you to craft legislation, to craft policy? Because one of the things I always feared was that I might, with the best of intentions, do something that was counterproductive. And if you don't listen to me, what I learned, again, going back to being a municipal politician where we regularly had meetings in the community where people came and talked to us, and yelled at us, whatever, and then at the provincial level where I'd had a number of parliamentary committees traveling around the province to meet with people on issues. And one of the things I learned, I was the chair of the Justice and Legal Affairs Committee, and the Attorney General wanted to revise the Builders lien Act, which doesn't sound very sexy, although it's a very important piece of legislation to provide certainty for tradespeople to work on construction projects so they can put them in until they get paid, etc., etc. It was a good thing. He wanted to revise it, and he asked me to lead a task force to go around the province. Well, in many of the places, I was meeting with people in the construction industry, and would rather walk over hot coals than ever speak in public. But what I found was that, if you ask somebody about something they know about, they'll be very articulate. You say to them, “What would be the case if we did this?” How would that affect you?” And when you think about that, you get people to talk about what they know, and you will learn so much good stuff, and they will often protect you from making a complete ass of yourself and doing something that will lead us, “Oh, why did we ever do that?”
Scott Allen 35:46
(Laughs) It's almost like a double challenge because, to a previous comment you made, we're all suffering from these cognitive biases. There are 180 of them, that are working our ability to make sense, realistic sense of the world, literally, right in front of us at times. And then, the knowledge, just even the lack of knowledge, and the lack of perspective that we might have on certain topics given our own lived history. It's fascinatingly challenging, right?
Kim Campbell 36:11
Here's another thing that I think leaders need to remember, there was a wonderful philosopher, Joseph Tussman, who used to say, “The unit of human understanding is the story.” And when I first went into cabinet in Ottawa, I had a young man, and He’d go with me when I give speeches, he’d say, “Well, where do you get all these cute little stories?” He used to call them my CLS because I'd be talking about something, and, “I know you’re going to have a story about something.” And I said, “Well, I guess my brain is kind of Velcro for those kinds of things because, when people tell me a story to illustrate something, I asked them something, and it's helpful that you ask people things, they will tell you stories, those are much more effective at making a point than saying the same thing in an abstract way. A woman came and spoke to me, and she was talking about this, and I thought, “Well, isn’t that interesting?” But it makes it alive, it makes it human. So, narratives that you have, and that can help people enter into your thinking, and see themselves in those situations, and also, to understand that what you're talking about doesn't just come out of the blue, that, in fact, it comes from the lived experience of other Canadians, or other people that that you're serving, and that you're listening to them. So, I think it's so important to remember that the stories, the narratives that give life, and flesh, and blood, and identity, to the ideas that you're talking about, are what help to connect you to people. And, if people feel that you have done your best in consulting and listening to people, even if they don't win the argument, they'll accept it because you have not dishonored them, but you've listened to them, that they've had a chance to have their say. And I don't just mean that you sit there listening with your teeth flashing, I mean that you actually engage, whatever, because one of the big challenges in a democracy is people have to be able to lose an argument. And if you can't lose an argument and feel that it was fair, or that, maybe you didn't prevail, but that you think that, on another day, you might, or that you need to try to change people's perspectives if you can. But if you can't do that, if losing an argument or losing an election turns you into an enemy of order, that's a terrible thing. And it's terrible for yourself, too, because you'll tie yourself up in emotional knots and die young of a heart attack. But I think it's really important. And how you get, there is to see the humanity in being with the people who disagree with you. And you see there by engaging with them as courteously as you get. There are limits, there are people who just want to harangue you, and you listen to it as much as you think you're required to do. But sometimes, people are surprised. And you also have to remember that some people are used to banging on a closed door, and when you open it, they're not quite sure what to do. So, they might be kind of cranky and difficult until they realize that you're actually inviting them in and interested in hearing what they have to say. So, you have to see people from where they're coming from. I've had a lot of situations like this where people who, at first, couldn't believe… Where they were rude to me because they couldn't believe that I was really listening to them because that's the only way they knew how to behave to somebody in my position. And then, when they realized that, no, I was actually interested in what they had to say, then they became constructive interlocutors.
Scott Allen 39:46
Well, as we begin to wind down our time, I was wondering if you'd tell me a story. You were at the Queen's funeral?
Kim Campbell 39:53
Yes, I was.
Scott Allen 39:55
And would you talk a little bit about that experience? Would you talk a little bit about your reflections on her as an individual and her as a leader? I'm really interested in hearing your perspective there. This is an instance where, if you don't want to go down this road, I'll edit it out.
Kim Campbell 40:11
I’ll just say that my feelings about the monarchy are complicated, but I am a member of… I was a member of Her Majesty's Privy Council, I guess a member of His Majesty’s Privy Council too now for Canada. So, I had to PC after my name for that. But, when I got the call to ask if I would go to the funeral, I was scheduled to be in New York at meetings of my Global Commission on Cloud Overshoot. And I couldn't figure out how I could manage to do this unless I stayed in Europe and just did the New York meetings by Zoom. And so, I said, “Well, I think it's going to be too hard for me to go; maybe somebody else would rather go.” So I happened to text my husband and tell him, and he said, “What do you mean you said you're not going? You call them right back. Of course, you’re going; you have to. You’re the only woman that was ever Prime Minister of Canada, and you have to be part of that delegation.” “Okay.” And there were about five of us, the current Prime Minister, and four others, which is interesting. And actually, Canadians love to see pictures of us together, I don't know why. They kind of like the idea that there are outings in which we all kind of just get together and be, even though we're different parties and may have been at each other's throats in an election campaign. And that's how it should be. And, in fact, we do treat each other with great respect, and friendliness, because we're not in election mode, we're in representing Canada mode, and we're happy to do that. So, I went, and also, when I saw at the hotel we are being put up in, I thought, “Oh, this is great. We're just a hop, skip, and jump from Westminster Abbey. And then, I got there and discovered nobody was hop, skipping, and jumping over to Westminster Abbey, [Inaudible 41:50-41:53] And so that was sort of fun. But it was a very interesting historical experience. And a couple of observations I made, first of all, the members of the congregation were people from all around the world, but the procession itself, I thought how different this must be from when King George the Sixth died. Although his funeral was not at Westminster Abbey, it was at St George's Chapel. But what was interesting was the ecumenism of it. The Queen was the head of the Church of England; she was quite a believer. And the Anglican church is a church within the Protestant denominations. And then, there are all the others, there are Catholics and evangelicals, and there is Hindus, Jews, Muslims. All of their religions were represented in the procession that came up, and I'm sure that it wasn't that way before. And I thought how important that was, that, it didn't take away from the fact that the Queen had her own particular religious beliefs, and I was thinking about that. When Charles was…he used to say that, rather than be called defender of the faith, he'd rather be called defender of faith because he's done a lot of stuff with other religions. But I was kind of struck by that. I thought, that's a very interesting example of the changing times, that, if a monarchy is going to have any use as being something to bring people together outside of politics, and pulling back on tradition, that it has to do that. And I think the other thing about it was that it was very… The music. I was sitting in Westminster Abbey. We were in the cheap seats because the city has their government get to sit up closer to where the actual ceremony is, I was in the Knave, which is the first big hall of the Abbey, and happily, the telegraph helps us to photograph up the Knave just as the casket was coming through with all the members of the world standing behind it. And I opened the telegraph the next day, and there it is, and there am I in this picture. I was showing this to friends who actually managed to get the picture. I have a framed copy of that picture hanging in my hallway now to prove that I was there. But just because it was a historical thing, and there is the casket and all the members of the royal family. I have mixed feelings. What was it people say? “Can you hold two contradictory views in your mind at the same time?” I do think that there is a value to things that don't have any relationship to power. I think the monarchy works better in Canada than it does in Britain because we've made it a very Canadian institution. The monarch’s functions are performed by distinguished Canadians at the national and provincial levels who usually serve for five years; sometimes, their terms are extended. And we've used it as a way of reflecting the diversity of our country. So we take governors, general… First of all, their use will be aristocrats after World War War II, they were White men, then, Anglophone and Francophone, and then, a woman, and then, people of color. We've had people born in [Inaudible 44:54] and people born in Haiti. We've had not just Quebecers, but also Akkadians. In other words, we've used it to demonstrate the diversity of our society. And as the people perform their roles with all the pomp and circumstance of dignity, it's a kind of way of embracing. Our current Governor General is, of course, is an Inuit woman. She's the first indigenous person to serve as Governor General. We've had lieutenant governors in the province who were indigenous. So, in Canada, we take this kind of funny old institution, and we use it to give dignity and recognition to various members of our community, who then perform the roles of representing us outside of partisan politics. So, we can yell at our politicians, there's nothing disloyal about that, but there is a person who could represent the totality of us in a way that has no political power. And there’s a lot to be said for that. The problem in Britain is that the royal family, as they are now, are also the cornerstone of a tradition of a lot of social hierarchy, hereditary aristocracy, and things over the years. House of Lords is a [Inaudible 46:06] But there's a lot of inherited wealth position and snobbery that’s still associated with that that we don't have in Canada because, in Canada, you're not allowed to have a title. If you're coming to Canada with a title if your friends want to call you that, that's fine, but it has no official recognition. So, oddly enough, I think that the process works well. But the other thing, though, was how incredibly well organized it was and what a performance it was. And I went back to my hotel after I had been at the funeral, and watched it; it had this wonderful music, and I had fun being part of the Canadian delegation. Went back to my hotel room and put on the TV to watch the rest of the procession, and it was led by four Canadian Royal Mounties, including a woman leading the procession to the gate. And then, the coffin went into a hearse and was driven out to Windsor. But just how incredibly good the British are at ceremony, whether it's these wonderful sailors pulling at the gun carriage, pulling the hearse as it is up to the first gate before it goes into another hearse. And that goes back to Queen Victoria’s day; I gather that the horses were startled during her funeral procession and ran the risk… Queen Victoria’s casket almost fell down. So, they decided after that that maybe they would have people pulling it. But it looked really great when they marched, and there were plenty of them, so no one person had to pull too hard. But just everything about it was beautiful, and the symbolism of it. And it was masterful. So, even if you weren't a monarchist, you would have to say, “Okay, I'm maybe not a monarchist, but this was really pretty amazing and pretty good.” And the efforts to be as inclusive as possible. So, people would ask me, “Do you think Canada will keep the monarchy?” And I say, “Well, first of all, it's complicated because it's deeply entrenched in our constitution. So, it isn’t just a matter of plucking it out.” But I do think that the reason you don't have a strong push for it in Canada is that we have transformed the institution to make it very Canadian. And it's very nice when the Queen and the King come to visit everything, it’s nice. But that, basically, we're quite happy to have the crown over there as a representative of our history, and tradition of our system of government, and many of the aspects of our law, but that we have been an independent country for a very long time. But the thing is that the Prime Ministers would have a very hard time figuring out how to replace it. Stephen Harper, who was a Prime Minister, said at one point, “I used to be against the monarchy, and then I began to look into what it would require to get rid of it; I changed my mind completely.” That's going to be really difficult.
Scott Allen 48:55
I like your description of, “We've made it very Canadian, we've made it our own, and we will represent it in our own way. And if it's an Inuit woman who is going to represent us, then that's…” I love that.
Kim Campbell 49:07
And, her husband was a journalist and is a wonderful writer. The point is, there are people that you could look up to, and when I was Prime Minister, I had meetings with my Governor General the same way as the Prime Ministers met with me. And it was absolutely lovely to have a chance to meet with somebody who you could just talk to about things. My Governor General had been a minister and understood things. He was thrilled to chat with me about things, but I knew that they would never go any further than that. So, that was a very useful thing. Going back to what we talked about before, “Who do you trust, and who do you talk to?” I think the extent to which the monarch, or his or her representative, is sort of your therapist on call, certainly, you're a good listener. And the longer they're there, the more lore they have to share. I think there's something nice about it. Plus, the fact that our prime minister is a very powerful person, more powerful than your President in terms of the actual levers of power because he controls a parliamentary majority. And it doesn't hurt to be in a position where you are showing deference to somebody else just to remind yourself that you're a big cheese, but there's a bigger one.
Scott Allen 50:23
(Laughs) Well, Ms. Campbell, I can't thank you enough for your time today. We really, really appreciate it. And this has just been so much fun. I've really, really enjoyed our time together. Thank you for your service in leadership. Thank you for your service to your country, to our world, and to the globe. It is remarkable. And, from the very beginning in high school, you're leading, and you still are, and we can't thank you enough.
Kim Campbell 50:51
Thank you, dear.
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