Karina Gould: both empathetic and personable with a good sense of humour; a person who doesn’t take herself too seriously.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

May  28th, 2019



“What happened” we asked.

Wallace and Gould

Accepting congratulations from Mike Wallace the night she was elected MP for Burlington.

“You got elected and then had a child and now you are heading into an election that looks as if it is going to be a lot different than the one in 2015.”

It had been some time since the Gazette was able to sit down with Burlington MP Karina Gould who serves as the Minister for Democratic Institutions.

She has been a busy woman. Her role as a Cabinet Minister keeps her in the public eye and we wanted to talk to her about how, as a rookie MP, she ended up in Cabinet.

We also wanted to know what she had done for Burlington during this term of office.

I said “I don’t want to talk about the election – that will come later when the Writ is dropped.


It was federal money that made the transformation of the Museum possible.

With that Gould launched into what she had done – a huge sum of money for the Joseph Brant Museum; without the federal money there would not have been the transformed Museum that is expected to be open in July.

Her role as a Cabinet Minister resulted in the federal gas tax contribution to the municipal sector being doubled.

She has played a significant role in the creation of the national housing policy; secured a $14 million loan for a Burlington corporation that has already paid dividends for the local economy.

“Will we see a Pharmacare program in the near future?” we asked. Yes – but Gould was unable to say exactly when.

Gould has delivered on waste water projects; delivered on funding for Royal Botanical Gardens.

She played a major role in the creation of the Innovation Superclusters that was launched in May of 2017

“I was able to get many of the details on that project nailed down before I had to head to the hospital to give birth: said Gould.

The Superclusters are a new and uniquely Canadian initiative. The federal government works industry through a business-led partnership model—to align the efforts of diverse industries, researchers and intermediary institutions, and build deep, ecosystem-level advantages in regions across Canada.

Thordon_CEO_and_Chair_with_Minister_Gould + bearing

MP Gould gets out into the community, listens and responds. Here she is listening to what the Thordon Group is doing to create better propeller shafts for ships.

One of the clusters is located in Hamilton and is expected to have a significant impact on the Burlington economy.

With Climate Change now part of everyday life, flooding is something Burlington knows a lot about. Federal programs to prepare as much as we can for the damage weather will do.

Child care support is top of mind for Gould who explains that decisions made during the Paul Martin days put that program back more than a decade. $7 billion has been earmarked for a program that has had a bumpy ride.

The challenges with the Indigenous community that are in the news every day were closer to home for Gould. “There isn’t a day when I am in Burlington that the issue of what we are doing for the Indigenous community doesn’t come up. There were 85 boil water advisory lifted in the recent past.” Gould will tell you that requiring First Nations communities to have to boil the water they drink is a national shame.

With the interview about to end Gould said: “I know you didn’t want to talk about the election today but I do” and she launched into what the issues are likely to be.

She then talked about how she ended up being made a Cabinet Minister.

Elected as the MP for Burlington in October of 2015 she served as the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Development and La Francophonie and was then in January of 2017 appointed Minister of Democratic Institutions.

Bandits - Gould opening pitch

She got the ball across the plate – but wasn’t able to keep the baseball team in town – they didn’t ask her for any help.

A student at M.M. Robinson, Gould attended McGill University and then the University of Oxford. She then worked as a trade and investment specialist for the Mexican Trade Commission, a consultant for the Migration and Development Program at the Organization of American States, and spent a year volunteering at an orphanage in Mexico.

Karina_Gould_ on the telephone

Cabinet ministry means a lot of reading. Gould at one of her desks in Ottawa.

Between December 2015 and January 2017, she served as Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Development and La Francophonie, before her appointment in January 2017 as Canada’s Minister of Democratic Institutions.

Gould was an active participant in Liberal Caucus meetings. She worked hard at networking and was vocal on a lot of issues. “Someone somewhere recognized whatever I have in the way of ability and made me a Parliamentary Secretary”.

When it became evident that the person serving as Minister for Democratic Institutions needed to be replaced Gould was given the job.
It turned out to be a lot more controversial than anyone expected. The role social media has come to play in elections around the world has resulted in Gould taking on some of the biggest corporations in the world: Google, Facebook, & Twitter have all felt the sting of Gould’s words. She doesn’t believe they are doing what should be done to ensure that elections are fair and not meddled with by outside interests.

Expect to hear much more from Gould on this file.

She recently held a Town Talk meeting at Nuvo One where two specialists on what is ethical and what isn’t, when it comes to social media, debated with a respectably sized audience.

While Gould wanted to talk about the election she didn’t want to say very much about her election plans or her election team. How many of the 2015 team will she have with her?

For the most part her profile in Burlington is as good as it gets. She has delivered.

In hindsight, the election of Karina Gould to the House of Commons was probably the beginning of the change in the kind of political representation Burlington was going to have. Will that change hold in the fall election?

The problem with elections is that there are national issues that at times sweep away outstanding local members. The Prime Minister isn’t the man we saw in 2015 – he is likely to be the issue. And if that proves to be the case – can Gould hold the Burlington seat on the strength of what she has done and her strength of character.

Gould In the House while Obama speaks

One of her favourite photographs – listening to Obama address the House of Commons

Karina Gould is not some dewy eyed woman with a good education who has gotten lucky. She has grown into a smart, sensitive, widely aware of the issues, woman who has found her footing. She is both empathetic and personable with a good sense of humour; a person who doesn’t take herself too seriously.

Lest one get the impression that Gould walks on water the way she handled the change in the Liberal government changed its mind on the first past the post system we have for determining who will sit in the House of Commons.

There were many who wanted the federal government to take a much deeper look at ranked balloting – but the government took the position that the public will for ranked balloting was just not there and ditched the program.

That policy shift got lost when Gould found herself saddled with managing the issue of social media misusing the internet to interfere with clean, clear honest elections.

Gould chose to be a true Liberal and stick to the party line on the SNC Lavalin bribery matter that is scheduled to end up in a court room at some point.  Two fellow Cabinet Ministers chose to take a different stand and oppose the Prime Minister.  That is not a position Gould is ever likely to find herself in – unless there is a clear need for a change in the leadership.

Would she ever be a possible leadership candidate?  The woman, born in 1987, is not yet 40 – anything is possible.  So far she has shown that she can take the heat.

Her immediate task is to hold her seat even if the Liberal Party doesn’t form the next government.

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4 comments to Karina Gould: both empathetic and personable with a good sense of humour; a person who doesn’t take herself too seriously.

  • Stephen White

    Yes…Karina is a good “retail” politician. She has a nice smile, is friendly, mouths all the right platitudes, and is congenial and sweet in the finest traditions of Paddy Torsney. Unfortunately, on the really critical issues she has neither the depth nor the gravitas that is required in an MP, let alone a Cabinet Minister.

    Witness the Town Hall meeting in the fall of 2016 regarding the small business tax issue. Dozens of small business people packed the Burlington Public Library to voice their concerns over an incredibly bad, ill-conceived and not particularly well-researched policy. It was an emotionally charged meeting. Anyone in attendance couldn’t help but be impressed by the extent to which speaker after speaker drilled holes in the flawed logic of Finance Minister Morneau’s proposals. When asked repeatedly for her candid opinion she weaved, ducked, smiled sweetly and avoided saying anything substantive. Fast forward to this year and her interview on CTV regarding Wilson-Raybould being kicked out of the Liberal caucus. Same thing. Smile nicely, make all sorts of perfunctory gestures, but avoid answering the tough questions.

    Ms. Gould owes her position in Cabinet to gender and geography. Justin needed gender balance, and he needed a female representative from the Hamilton-Halton-Niagara Region. Voila! Frankly, Pam Damoff or John Oliver from Oakville, or even Bob Bratina from Hamilton, would have brought more credibility and presence to the Cabinet table. The fact that democratic reform has long been abandoned by the PM begs the question of why the subject even warrants a cabinet level portfolio.

  • Joe Gaetan

    I was very disappointed at the non-position Minister Gould adopted over the small business tax fiasco and Prime Minister Trudeau’s portrayal of small business owners as ” tax dodgers”. Minister Gould did little on that file, other than to protect Minister Morneau from a real grilling in Oakville. Having also reached out to M.P Bob Bratina on the matter I was impressed with his response and understanding of the issue. I do agree Minister Gould is an amiable person.

  • Roger

    Karina is a nice person however will not be a sitting member past October – to often she has been silent on issue like – boil water on reserves” – calling it a shame – what the shame is her government has done little to change this – issue on veteran affairs – most of the promises in the last election were forgotten – spending nearly 4.5 billion on a pipeline to ship dirty oil and members of the sitting government say there is an “acceptable loss of marine life” – dismissal of cabinet ministers who spoke up

    To much water under the bridge – if Karina was an independent she would stand a chance however Burlington will return to the Conservatives this October – to many broken promises and forgotten commitments

    • Phillip Wooster

      Roger, I have been very disappointed in her performance, particularly during the SNC Lavalin Scandal. While strong, ethical women like Jane Philpott put integrity ahead of politics, Gould merely repeated the usual litany of Liberal talking points. As a strong supporter of Trudeau, she is likewise responsible for the numerous broken promises from the 2015 election. And I found her reported attempt to stop Google from publishing opinions that were critical of the Liberals very troubling–even her title is Orwellian–Minister of Democratic Institutions; are there really Canadians who trust this government to protect democracy? Like many Conservatives in Burlington who either stayed home in 2015 or voted for change and have been very disappointed (but not totally surprised by the result), I will be again voting Conservative.

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