Canada's First Woman PM Offers Clinton Tips Kim Campbell discusses her experience as the first female prime minister of Canada and complications with the word "boss." Clinton is doing a amazing job, she says.
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Canada's First Woman PM Offers Clinton Tips

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Canada's First Woman PM Offers Clinton Tips

Canada's First Woman PM Offers Clinton Tips

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This is DAY TO DAY. I'm Madeleine Brand.


I'm Alex Chadwick.

OK. Picking up now on a thread from this conversation with Newsweek's Evan Thomas about the alleged press lovefest for Senator Obama. Because at this point in her campaign, what can Senator Clinton do?

BRAND: We're joined now by someone who knows what it's like to be a historic female leader, and what's it like to go through a contentious political campaign. She is the Right Honorable Kim Campbell, the first woman to serve as prime minister of Canada, and that was in 1993.

Kim Campbell, welcome to the program.

Ms. KIM CAMPBELL (Former Prime Minister, Canada): Thank you very much.

BRAND: Now, as you watch what's happening I this election in the states, does it bring back any memories for you?

Ms. CAMPBELL: Well, it certainly does. I think one of the problems that you face is that the opinion is mediated through a press gallery. The reporters, for whom that political race is their bread and butter, and it has been for a long time, are often deeply, deeply conservative about who belongs there. And if you don't fit their image of what a president or a prime minister should be, you're fighting an uphill battle with them.

So I had a very brief period of time in which to establish my bona fides. And I think that meant that fighting against that preconception that I didn't really belong there, even though I'd had a very successful career as a cabinet minister, and in fact of the 18 men who preceded me as prime minister of Canada only eight had more cabinet experience than I had.

But again, I was always seen as the rookie. Why was I a rookie? Because I was a female. And I think that timing more than anything, and the fact that I was succeeding a man who was the most unpopular prime minister in the history of Canadian polling, meant that it was not the easiest political battle in the world.

BRAND: That was Brian Mulroney. Now, I don't know if Senator Clinton has called you up and asked you for any words of wisdom or advice, but what would you say to her that she needs to do perhaps differently?

Ms. CAMPBELL: When she started out with the emphasis on her competence, that actually wasn't a bad idea, because the assumption is that men are competent, women are not competent. It is harder for women. There's no question about it, because, you know, if you're too smiley and warm and nice, people think you're frivolous and not serious. If you're too dour and serious and straightforward and, you know, full of wonderful ideas, people think, well, you know, you're too dour and boring, whatever. I mean, it's kind of a no-win situation for people who are looking for some reason to validate their sense that you don't really belong there.

When it's clear that there's a following for this other kind of candidate, you have to say not he's overrated or it's all, you know, words, words, words. You have to say: what is it about him that makes people want to follow him and do I have those qualities and am I not communicating to people that I really am passionate about this? I care about this country. This is a great country. Where is that passionate drive that says I want to use all of these things that I've learned to make things right for people who are hurting, who are in pain now. And this is what I want to do. This is what I care about and I want to leave America better than when I found it if I'm your president.

BRAND: Well, the way you just phrased that, I think, would serve her well, because you did convey that with passion and...

Ms. CAMPBELL: Well, I...

BRAND: ...sincerity.

Ms. CAMPBELL: ...was very passionate. And incidentally, that was not a problem I had as a politician. I mean, I could feel instinctively that there were problems. It's like when people kept saying, well, she's a rookie, she's a rookie. And finally I said to one of my assistants, you know, go and look at the other prime ministers of Canada. Where do I sit in terms of cabinet experience? And I discovered that I was among the most experienced half of the - not the least experienced. And you sort of think, you know, why can't I get people to pay attention?

You know, when I became a candidate for the leadership of my party, I was the minister of national defense. But I'd had three very successful years as justice minister, passed a record amount of legislation, very difficult issues. In fact, the reason why I had so much support at my own caucus was that I had dealt with these very difficult issues in a very successful way.

And I couldn't figure out why the press didn't seem to want to write about what I had done. But it was like that was yesterday. Your successes don't stick to you in the same way. For a man, every success sticks to him and creates a kind of patina of competence. Whereas a woman, every day she gets up and, you know, where did those successes go from yesterday? They didn't stick. I've got to go and make a whole bunch more. So it's a very perplexing and difficult issue.

BRAND: What about when you actually - you weren't campaigning but you were in office and you tried to get legislation through. Did you find that you had to negotiate in a different way or you had to go about trying to get your policies through in a different way?

Ms. CAMPBELL: Well, you know, it's interesting, because after I left politics and I started reading some of the literature on different styles of leadership, you know, women are interactive leaders, men are more command and control - and of course even that's contextual. When I was prime minister there were times I had to be command and control. I had responsibilities to make a decision and it wasn't time to consult with everybody.

But I think my success as a legislator, particularly the three years I was justice minister, did result from the fact that I was a very collaborative leader. Women also learn to be collaborative leaders because they understand that people won't let them get away with being too command and control. It's very, very contextual whether people will let you be bossy.

And I remember when I became prime minister some of the people in my office started calling me boss. And I didn't like that. And they said, well, Brian Mulroney like to be called boss. And I thought, well, you know, but the one thing no girl wants to be called is bossy. So you can call me chief, you can me P.M., but don't call me boss.

But, again, you know, it's interesting. It's not a male versus female thing. There are a lot of women who are just as hostile to women in power as some men are. And some men are huge devotees of women. And it has to do with how you think the world works. Women are a part of the problem. People say, you know, why don't women support women? Because they're part of a culture that says that women don't belong there.

BRAND: You mentioned that a lot of women think, well, wow, she's got to succeed because otherwise no woman following her will ever succeed. Do you think that could be the case in this instance? Do you think that if Hillary Clinton does not make it, that that will just, you know, that'll discourage other women from trying for the presidency?

Ms. CAMPBELL: Well, I certainly hope not. I think that she has changed the way a presidential campaign looks. I think she's been fantastic. Whether or not she gets the nomination, I think that she has done credit to women. I think she has shown that she's tough, that the burdens of a campaign have not been too much for her, that she hasn't lost her ability to keep to her message. Maybe she needs a little bit more magic.

But I think that she has done credit to all women. And if she doesn't win, I hope it's because of her policies, or that something that her rival has, that is even greater. And there's no shame in that.

BRAND: Well, Kim Campbell, thank you very much for speaking with us today.

Ms. CAMPBELL: It's a pleasure.

BRAND: That's the Right Honorable Kim Campbell, former prime minister of Canada.

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