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Opinion

Christy Clark could make history (again) with a B.C. election win

By Andrew Cardozo      

Even though Canada has had several female premiers, and one female prime minister, none have been elected twice.

Clark is already the longest-serving female premier, having been in power for more than six years. The Hill Times photograph by Sam Garcia
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If Christy Clark wins the British Columbia election on May 9, she will be the first woman premier to win two general provincial elections. Even though Canada has had several female premiers, and one female prime minister, none have been elected twice.

The first woman to become premier was Rita Johnston, who won the leadership of the Social Credit Party, thus making her premier of B.C. in April 1991, although she was defeated in the provincial election seven months later. Later that year, Nellie Cournoyea became premier of the Northwest Territories, elected by her peers following the non-partisan election.

In 1993, Liberal Catherine Callbeck became the first woman to win a provincial general election. That was also the year Progressive Conservative Kim Campbell won the leadership of her federal party, making her prime minister, only to be defeated four months later.

We reached the zenith of six woman premiers for most of 2013: Eva Aariak of Nunavut, Kathy Dunderdale of Newfoundland and Labrador, Christy Clark, Allison Redford of Alberta, Pauline Marois of Quebec, and Kathleen Wynne of Ontario.

We are now down to three women leaders: Ms. Clark, Ms. Wynne, and Rachel Notley, elected in Alberta in 2015.

Ms. Clark is already the longest-serving female premier, having been in power for more than six years. She became premier in 2011, when she took the helm of the B.C. Liberal Party from then-premier Gordon Campbell.

To date, no woman head-of-government in Canada has been elected to the high offices twice. It is significant because if elected, it would signify that Ms. Clark was judged positively on a full term of her own, rather than on a term shared with a male predecessor.

Just contemplating: this is progress.

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