Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Justice Minister Is Quick to Confront Canada's Big Issues INTERVIEW: KIM CAMPBELL

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Justice Minister Is Quick to Confront Canada's Big Issues INTERVIEW: KIM CAMPBELL

Article excerpt

JUST over a month after Canadian voters rejected a plan to unify the nation by rewriting its Constitution, most politicians have taken the cue to "concentrate on the economy."

Yet the questions of regional identity and national unity that led to a national referendum on the failed Charlottetown Accord will not entirely go away. Justice Minister Kim Campbell - a name on the tip of every pundit's tongue as a strong prospect to be Canada's next leader - seems to understand this key point.

"I just think there's a yearning to find something that binds us, and some way of defining us, and some way of feeling that Canada really is something," she says. "But you need to find the language to make that an accessible idea for people."

Smart, tough, and ambitious, Ms. Campbell, who hails from Vancouver, British Columbia, has been quick to defer to Prime Minister Brian Mulroney as the logical Progressive Conservative Party standard bearer. But with Mr. Mulroney's popularity in polls at around 22 percent, she is clearly in the wings if Mulroney should step down before the elections campaign heats up.

In a recent Monitor interview in Boston, Campbell discussed the lessons she sees coming out of the failed two-year-long process of proposed constitutional changes known as the Charlottetown Accord. Among these lessons, she says, is the need for political leaders to lead the way in articulating and cultivating a shared vision of Canada as crucial to the nation's future.

"I think so much of what people went through in talking about the various aspects of the Charlottetown Accord related to their attempt to define the country, what it is we are as a country, what are the things that unify us," Campbell says.

"It sometimes seems to boil down to nothing more than our social programs, and I think no, no, no.... We have a social and political culture that's quite remarkable," she says. "We have ways of doing things ... certain senses of historical connectedness that gave us a sense of obligation to one another. …

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