CAMPBELL WAVES GOODBYE TO PARTY LEADERSHIP
TORONTO — * Former Prime Minister Kim Campbell, who led her Progressive Conservative Party to an overwhelming defeat in Canada's October federal elections, resigned from her party's leadership Dec. 13.
Her meteoric rise from a fresh-faced newcomer in Parliament to the country's seat of power took less than five years. Her fall was even swifter. Just five months after Ms. Campbell took over Brian Mulroney's position to become the party's first female leader - and then the country's first woman prime minister - she was out.
Mr. Mulroney had stepped down because the party's fortunes had plummeted under his leadership.
If the party's loss in the October election had not been so stinging, Campbell might have stayed on as Progessive Conservative leader until a convention. But six weeks after the party dropped from 154 seats in Parliament to two, party movers and shakers decided it was time for her to go.
``Today is a time to move on, for me and the party,'' Campbell told reporters at a press conference in Ottawa Dec. 13. The reasons ``are complex, and I do not wish to discuss them in detail here.''
But the reason she was given the boot now is fairly simple, several analysts say: money and loss of prestige. The party holds a C$7 million (US$5.3 million) debt it cannot repay until it raises funds. Because the party did not receive even 15 percent of the vote, it does not qualify for an additional C$3 million (US$2.3 million) dollar reimbursement from the federal government.
The heavy debt, added to the historic loss, means that many party stalwarts are simply not ready to dig the party out of its hole while Campbell remains, analysts say.
Jean Charest, one of the two remaining Tory survivors in Parliament will take on the leadership until the convention. Mr. Charest, Campbell's rival at last June's convention, faces one of the biggest rebuilding jobs in Canadian political history.