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List of female first ministers in Canada

List of female first ministers in Canada

A total of fifteen women have served as the first minister of a Canadian government. Of these, one was prime minister of the country, ten were premiers of a province and four were premiers of a territory. The only woman first minister in Canada as of 8 December 2023 is Danielle Smith, 19th Premier of Alberta, who assumed office on 11 October 2022.

Women have been eligible to become premier since they first gained the right to vote, beginning in 1916 in Manitoba and extending to all jurisdictions when Quebec allowed women to vote in 1940 (the Northwest Territories did not allow women to vote until later, but it did not have premiers at the time). Women soon began to be appointed to cabinet positions, starting with Mary Ellen Smith in British Columbia in 1921, but it was not until decades later that women began to serve as leaders of a major party. Hilda Watson became the first woman to lead her party to victory in a general election in 1978. However, since Yukon did not have premiers at the time, and Watson did not win her riding, her successor became the first Government Leader of the Yukon. The first female premier was Rita Johnston in 1991 in British Columbia. Today, every Canadian jurisdiction has had at least one female premier except for Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Saskatchewan.

The most women first ministers at any one time was six, for 277 days from 11 February to 15 November 2013. These six included the premiers of Canada's four most populated provinces, so during that time approximately 88% of Canadians had a female premier. The longest-serving female premier is Christy Clark, who served as premier of British Columbia for over six years, from 14 March 2011 to 18 July 2017.

Only three of the fourteen women premiers won the title by defeating an incumbent premier in a general election. The rest won the title through a party leadership race or in a non-partisan vote, although several of those went on to win a general election as the incumbent premier. No woman premier in Canadian history has ever been elected to more than one mandate. Christy Clark came closest by winning the most seats in the 2017 election, which would have been her second mandate, but she was not successful in forming government as the BC Liberals were defeated in a confidence vote shortly after.

Timeline of female first ministers

See also

  • Women in Canadian politics
  • List of Canadian women government ministers
  • List of vicereines in Canada
  • List of elected or appointed female heads of state
  • List of Asian-Canadian first ministers
  • List of female prime ministers
  • List of female governors in the United States
  • List of female heads of government in Australia


Text submitted to CC-BY-SA license. Source: List of female first ministers in Canada by Wikipedia (Historical)