Karina Gould takes to the streets - campaign is in full throttle.

By Ryan O’Dowd: Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

August 23rd, 2021


The interview with Karina Gould proved to be quite lengthy so we have broken it into two parts;, the first covers the work Gould has done during the term office. The second looks forward to what another Liberal term would look like.

Karina Gould, Minister for International Development and Burlington federal Liberal candidate, spoke with the Gazette ahead of her campaign kickoff event which took place on Saturday.

Karina Gould – having fun on the campaign trail

Gould spoke about what she’s done for the Burlington and Hamilton Area, her federal work, including the Feminist International Assistance Policy, the situation in Afghanistan, how comfortable she is to be judged on the Liberal’s COVID-19 response, climate change, and what the government has done to practically address reconciliation with Indigenous people.

On her work with the Burlington community, Gould touted Hamilton Harbour cleanup, as well as an announcement to pledge $400 million to essentially get rid of the Dofasco smokestacks.

Gould says the Dofasco investment will take the equivalent of a million cars off the road, and benefit not only Burlington air quality, but will also guarantee thousands of jobs in the area for decades to come.

“What we’re seeing is a major investment from the federal government in the Burlington/Hamilton area. Whether it’s Randall Reef, whether it’s the Dofasco announcement of $400 million, to essentially get rid of the smokestacks, that’s gonna take the equivalent of a million cars off the road, it’s gonna have such a huge benefit in Burlington for air quality but it also guarantees 1000s of jobs in the area at Dofasco for decades to come. So, you know, our government and the work that I’ve been doing on behalf of the region is investing in people. It’s investing in the economy, right, and we’re seeing the results of it,” said Gould.

Gould is comfortable if this federal election takes the form of a referendum on the Liberal administration’s handling of COVID-19. The candidate cited community appreciation while knocking on doors throughout the community for the federal government’s pandemic handling. Gould spoke about emergency response benefits, wage and rent subsidies, and being ahead of schedule providing enough vaccines for all Canadians.

Gould pulling cheers out of her campaign team

“We had anticipated to have enough vaccines for all Canadians by September, we delivered two months ahead of schedule in July. We have 82% of eligible Canadians vaccinated but we need to get those numbers up. Because there are still Canadians 12 and under, for example, who are ineligible to get vaccinated, we need to protect our young people. Florida is a terrible example right now, in terms of the number of pediatric cases and Icos and with COVID-19. So, for those of us who can get vaccinated, it’s an act of kindness to do so because we’re protecting each other,” said Gould.

Speaking on her work with the Feminist International Assistance Policy Gould said Canada is a “rockstar” around the world on women’s rights, and a leader in gender equality, recognized as such for the work the Liberal administration has been doing. She referenced working with organizations abroad providing sexual health and reproductive rights and services to individuals and striving towards gender equality.

“When the Conservatives were in power, they defunded organizations that provided sexual health and reproductive rights and services support to individuals. So if an organization supported a woman’s right to choose abroad, the conservatives defunded, we reversed that policy when we came into office.

“We’re one of the top funders for access to abortion and other underserved areas when it comes to sexual health and reproductive rights around the world. That is super important, because there are a lot of people who live in places who simply can’t access sexual health and reproductive rights. We are the top funder when it comes to gender equality 95% of our international assistance deals with gender equality in some way, shape, or form. And it’s, it’s cool to see us living those values, not just here at home, but also around the world supporting women’s rights activists, feminist organizations, who are often on the frontlines in their communities. So that’s been really exciting,” said Gould.

Fear is mounting around what the Taliban takeover means for women’s rights in Afghanistan. Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid has said women’s rights will be honored within the norms of Islamic law but for many, this did little to alleviate concern. Gould was asked if the Afghanistan situation posed a setback for her feminist work abroad and insisted Canada is getting as many people out as quickly as they can.

This Air Force C17 cargo plane violated every Air Force rule in packing it so full.

“And then maybe just in terms of what’s happening in Afghanistan. My goodness, this is horrific and awful to see what’s happening. And we are working very closely with our allies to do everything that we can to get vulnerable Afghans out, particularly those that have supported Canadian efforts over the past 20 years. And so whether it’s interpreters, whether it’s women’s rights activists, right, who maybe we didn’t necessarily contract with, but we formed government policy.

“And so we’re in very close contact with vulnerable people, either who were activists who supported Canadian efforts, but also vulnerable groups like the Hazara, or the Sikh minorities. And so we are watching the situation very closely, but also actively taking people out as much as possible. And we were able to evacuate over 800 people before the Taliban made it into Kabul. And we’re sending flights in and getting people out as quickly and as many as we can,” said Gould.

The Liberal government didn’t manage to put an end to the boil water notices but they do claim to have significantly reduced the number of them.

From an international tragedy to a national one, Canada’s reckoning with past and present Indigenous relations will be at the forefront of this election. Gould spoke to the Liberal government’s record with Indigenous people and what actionable reconciliation looks like. Gould touches on lifting long-standing boil water advisories in Indigenous communities, a 2015 Trudeau campaign promise that’s lagging deadlines have been battered by the opposition. Gould acknowledged reconciliation is a work in progress but spoke to her party’s commitments in-progress.

“Practically it’s the $18 billion that we committed in the last federal budget, to equalize the amount of money that we spend on Indigenous Canadians. So when we were elected in 2015, for every dollar of public services that was spent on you and I only 70 cents was spent on an indigenous person living on reserve, so we have this huge gap to overcome.

Liberal candidate Karina Gould outside the campaign office – rallying the troops.

“And over the last six years, we’ve been making big investments, whether it’s in housing, childcare, education, health care, water provision of clean water, the list goes on and on to try to equalize those serve at those levels of service protection, and means ending all boil water advisories, you know when we came into office in 2015, the previous government said this was not on their radar, they literally said ‘not on our radar,’ it was not an important issue for them.

“We committed to having the advisories all lifted by 2021, didn’t quite make that, but we’ve had 108 lifted, right, we still have a few more to go. But we’ve done significant amounts of work. And it’s been billions of dollars that have gone into that because many of these communities didn’t have any infrastructure at all. So this is a top priority,” said Gould.

In the second part of our interview, Gould discusses the issues the Liberals want to move on when they are returned to office. Discussing what the future of Canada looks like for those who decline vaccination without medical justification, the cost of living, what Bill C-10 means for Canadians, hate speech on the internet and what if any role the government could play in regulating it, and more on what reconciliation looks like moving forward.

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