Kim Campbell is Canada’s 19th Prime Minister
TORONTO (AP) _ Kim Campbell became Canada’s 19th prime minister Friday, the first woman to hold the post.
Brian Mulroney, who had headed the government since 1984, tendered his resignation and that of his Cabinet to Governor General Ray Hnatyshyn.
″We’ll go away for awhile,″ Mulroney told reporters as he departed with his wife, Mila.
An hour later, Ms. Campbell was sworn in. She recited the brief oath in English and French, Canada’s official languages.
The ceremony at Rideau Hall in Ottawa, residence of the governor general, culminated an intense period of political activity that began Feb. 24 when Mulroney announced he intended to step down as Progressive Conservative Party leader.
Ms. Campbell, 46, a former defense minister and justice minister, won the leadership at the Conservative convention two weeks ago. As head of the party with the majority in the House of Commons, she becomes prime minister automatically.
That majority, however, expires in November, giving the new prime minister very little time to organize a government and make an impression on the public before she is obliged to call an election.
A Gallup poll published Thursday shows Jean Chretien’s Liberal Party would be the choice of 41 percent of the voters if the election were held today. The Conservatives have 36 percent and Audrey McLaughlin’s New Democratic Party 10 percent.
The poll of 1,014 Canadians is considered accurate within 3.1 percentage points.
″I think voters will be prepared to give Campbell a look,″ said William Christian, a professor of political science at the University of Guelph.
But the new prime minister is faced with a dilemma. She must distance herself from Mulroney, whose economic policies made him the most unpopular prime minister in Canadian history, without offending the core of the party, which believes he did a good job.
″She has to actually put policies in place to indicate a new direction and at the same time unite various elements of the Conservative Party behind her,″ Christian said.
Her main opportunity for foreign exposure will be the Tokyo summit of industrial powers next month. That will provide her with an occasion to look prime-ministerial and stateswoman-like. Unlike Americans, however, Canadians historically haven’t paid much attention to foreign policy when deciding how to vote.
Her greatest obstacle remains the calendar. She has very little time before she has to call an election and no time to deal with such overriding issues at 11.4 percent unemployment and a $35.5 billion - $28 billion in U.S. currency - budget deficit while maintaining the safety net of health care and welfare so important to Canadians.
″The public is going to require some convincing,″ said Christian. ″If she can suggest the broad outlines of a solution ... I think Canadians would be prepared to give it a shot. On the other hand, if she seems to be just mouthing generalities, which indicates she doesn’t know more than anybody else, people will thing she is just a continuation of the Mulroney government.″