Pro-lifers may have breathed a collective sigh of relief at the news that Kim Campbell is no longer Justice Minister; however, rampant media speculation places her as front runner in the undeclared race to succeed Brian Mulroney.

“The only thing worse than Kim Campbell as Justice Minister would be Kim Campbell as Prime Minister,” declared Jim Hughes, national president of Campaign Life Coalition.

A s elf-proclaimed “committed and passionate pro-choicer,” Ms. Campbell first made headlines in the abortion arena when as a sitting member of the B.C. Socred government, she broke ranks with Premier Bill Vander Zalm over his refusal to fund abortions provincially. She quit the Socreds and ran federally for the Tories in 1988, winning her Vancouver Centre seat by a mere 269 votes.

Appointed as Justice Minister in 1989, Ms. Campbell inherited Bill C-43, the government’s infamous abortion bill. Forced to face-off against her feminist sisters over her support of a bill returning abortion to the Criminal Code, she told the Canadian abortion Rights Action League (CARAL), “There won’t be one less abortion because of this bill.”

During debate on C-43 in the House of Commons, Ms. Campbell stated, “I do not accept the notion that a fetus has the same rights as a born human being.”

Ms. Campbell’s new appointment as Canada’s first female Minister of Defence has fuelled an intense media buzz. Some view her new status as a promotion, but others disagree, and maintain she’s been demoted.

As to her chances as Mulroney’s successor, veteran CBC broadcaster and political columnist John Warren puts a different spin on the matter. In his January 7 column in The Hill Times he points out that front-running, high profile cabinet ministers have not fared well in recent leadership races. Neither Mulroney, Chrétien, Turner nor Stanfield even had seats in the House of Commons when elected party leader. Joe Clark and Audrey McLaughlin both beat higher profile members of their parties for the leadership post. As Warren says, Campbell may only be a pre-race favourite, nothing more.

“Good. Let’s keep it that way,” growls CLC’s Jim Hughes.