TORONTO -- Kim Campbell, newly elected leader of Canada's ruling Progressive-Conservatives, met with departing Prime Minister Brian Mulroney Monday afternoon and agreed she would take over his job on June 25.
Campbell will be the first-ever woman head of a national government in North America, Canada's 19th prime minister and the nation's fourth- youngest person to attain that post.
She said following the meeting at the prime minister's residence at 24 Sussex Drive in Ottawa that she expects 34-year-old Environment Minister Jean Charest, whom she defeated at the Tory convention Sunday night, will play a major role in her government.
Opposition leader Jean Chretien, head of the Liberal Party, said Campbell's election to the Tory post, only means a change of faces, not a change in Conservative policy. Campbell is required to call a general election by November.
Campbell won the Tory leadership at the party gathering in the Lansdowne Centre in the capital of Ottawa. Her victory came on a second ballot in a tight contest with Charest, who is a native Quebecker.
A former university lecturer in political science from British Columbia, Campbell, who is twice-divorced, entered the federal parliament in 1988. She was picked by Prime Minister Brian Mulroney to be indian affairs minister before taking the justice portfolio and attorney-general's post. Her last move in the cabinet was to the ministry of defense.
The leadership race was sparked Feb. 24 by Mulroney's announcement he was stepping down after leading the Tories for nine years and to two consecutive majority governments.
Campbell attended the University of British Columbia and the London School of Economics. She is fluent in English, French and Russian.
She will become prime minister when sworn to the post by Canada's governor-general following Mulroney's official resignation.
Campbell joins five other women currently holding government leadership positions worldwide including Norwegian Prime Minister Gro Harlem Brundtland, Polish Prime Minister Hanna Suchocka and Presidents Mary Robinson of Ireland, Vigdis Finnbogadottir of Iceland and Violetta de Chamorro of Nicaragua.
The prime minister-designate is a strong supporter of the North American Free Trade Agreement recently ratified by Canada's House of Commons. The United States and Mexico have yet to approve the agreement.
She has been portrayed in the media and by party critics during the campaign as too 'feisty' to effectively lead the party in a general election. But in her last campaign speech Saturday night Campbell discounted polls that indicated Tories would lose a general election with her at the helm.
Campbell inherits the mantle of government leadership and problems facing the Mulroney government including mounting national debt and high unemployment. However, she takes over when Canada's stature in international affairs has reached a an all-time high given the government's participation in United Nations peacekeeping missions.