‘Upset the apple cart,’ former PM urges teachers

August 29, 2017
Bromley Chamberlain, ATA News Staff
Kim Campbell shared her views on gender disparity and leadership styles during a speech to Summer Conference delegates.

Kim Campbell delivers keynote address at 2017 Summer Conference 

Gender stereotypes are embedded deep in the subconscious part of our minds, and although we might make a conscious effort to think of men and women as equals, subconsciously we’ve learned that they aren’t.

This was the moral of a story told by former prime minister Kim Campbell during a keynote address at the Alberta Teachers’ Association’s Summer Conference in Banff on Aug. 15.

According to Campbell’s anecdote, during an Implicit Association Test at Harvard University, she was shocked to find that she associated scientists with men over women. Then again, she explained, the association made sense.

“Why wouldn’t I? I grew up in a world where almost all the scientists I saw were men,” she said.

Campbell explained this phenomenon as people’s natural tendency to see the world in terms of the landscape that is prevalent when they grow up.

As she continued to explore the issue of gender disparity, Campbell compared Bill Clinton and Hilary Clinton — Bill was a Rhodes Scholar and Hilary wasn’t.

“Why? Because Hilary and I are the same generation and Rhodes scholarships weren’t open to women,” Campbell explained. “There are a lot of experiences that are great, but not very many people get to use them.”

Campbell said she wants people to “upset the apple cart.”

“You have to go outside the envelope,” she said. “If you really want to be elitist, don’t change anything.”

In order to open up society and change the world, we need leaders who come from non-traditional backgrounds, she said.

“I am very grateful for the chance to address you because you are on the front lines of creating our leaders for the future,” she said.

Looking south

Campbell talked about different leadership styles and what makes a good leader.
“When we learn about leadership, it’s not just about how we would lead if we get the opportunity, but in whom we will confer our trust, who we will support as leaders; not just their charisma and style, but what is their character, and what are their views?” Campbell said. “Democracy is so precious.”

A teacher from the audience asked Campbell how she thought the situation in the United States under President Donald Trump would unfold.

“I think, however it is going to end, it is going to be ugly,” Campbell stated. “In a way, I think there is an underlying strength, and I think that democracy will win, but it will be very bruised.”

People in Europe are not supporting populist right candidates because they are looking at the situation in the United States and know they don’t want that for their country, she said, alluding to the saying by Winston Churchill that democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others.

“I think there would be some good lessons to learn from Trump, but it may get worse before it gets better,” she said. “Stay tuned. Make sure it doesn’t happen here.” ❚

Kim Campbell bio

Kim Campbell became Canada’s first ever female prime minister in June 1993 and held the office until November 1993. Her Progressive Conservative party lost the Oct. 25 election and she lost her own seat in Vancouver Centre.

Since leaving politics, Campbell …

  • served as chair of the Council of Women World Leaders from 1999 to 2003,
  • served as president of the International Women’s Forum from 2003 to 2005,
  • chaired the steering committee of the World Movement for Democracy from 2008 to 2015 and
  • was appointed founding principal of the Peter Lougheed Leadership College at the University of Alberta in April 2014.