Premier of British Columbia • March 2011 to July 2017
Christy Clark’s first taste of politics was as a kid, working on campaigns for her dad. She remembers knocking on doors and folding brochures at the kitchen table.
”He would get four or five percent of the vote.” Clark laughs. ”I didn’t ever think about politics as something you were successful at, because my dad was never successful. I just thought it was something you did because you cared about things; because you had opinions and wanted to do good. Getting elected wasn’t really the point.”
As the female first minister with the longest tenure in Canadian history, Clark would later learn that politics could be met with success.
Clark was born and raised in Burnaby, British Columbia. She studied political science at Simon Fraser University and became involved as a political organizer. She served as the National Campaign Director for the Young Liberals, and worked on Parliament Hill.
Her own start in politics came in 1996 when she was elected to the Legislative Assembly as a B.C. Liberal. Premier Gordon Campbell appointed Clark to cabinet shortly after and named her as deputy premier. In 2004, Clark announced she was leaving provincial politics to spend more time with her young son. She went on to have a successful media career, hosting The Christy Clark Show.
In 2010, Clark announced her return to politics, seeking the leadership of the B.C. Liberals following the retirement of Gordon Campbell. She won and was sworn in as the second female premier of British Columbia. She led the party to victory in 2013, although she herself lost her seat. She was elected shortly after in a by-election and served the term as premier. In the 2017 B.C. election, the party won the most seats but fell one seat short of forming a majority. The NDP and Greens formed a coalition to form government, and defeated Clark’s government in a non-confidence vote. Shortly after, Clark resigned.
Like most women in politics, Clark faced harsh criticism throughout her tenure – from her personality to her looks.
”We still live in a world where, for men, it’s okay to be nice and to be tough. You can be likeable, and tough. In fact, you should be – if you’re a guy. But for women, it’s a spectrum: you’re likeable, or you’re tough. And the closer you get to tough, the farther you get from likeable. I think that’s really stopped women’s progress in terms of getting re-elected.”