The evolution of a politician: Gould handles an interview well - stick handles her way through awkward questions.


SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

February 8th, 2017



There is a CBC radio program I seldom miss – “The House” every Saturday morning at 9:00 am
Certified political junkies never miss it.

Last Saturday, Chris Hall interviewed Burlington’s MP and Cabinet Minister of Democratic Institutions Karina Gould.

Karina Gould with cat

She was just a local girl, went to M.M. Robinson, then to McGill University where she decided the wanted to be a Member of Parliament.

I have covered Karina since the day she announced her candidacy. I watched her actually pry away the Burlington riding from Mike Wallace which she did by creating a team of people that were out on the streets almost every weekend.

They would meet at Emmas Back Porch and then head out in teams and do the door knocking. Gould won by being the better campaigner.

On a door step her energy and just plain likability came through.

She once explained what tended to happen when she got to the end of a street she was door knocking on. “People would tell me”, explained Gould “that they intended to vote Liberal but weren’t going to put up a lawn sign.”

On one street Gould said she wanted to shout out: ‘You’re all Liberals” and they were – or enough of them to make her a member of the House of Commons.

Gould - Claite -Kyle - Fed Liberals

Gould with her campaign team during the election that took her to Ottawa – they ran a superb campaign.

She performed well. She loved the moment when then American President Barak Obama recognized her when he paid a visit to Canada.

Gould has that genuine youthful energy – she is just a likeable person who also has the ability to back away from the political rhetoric and ask how a person is doing when she knows they are struggling.

Watching her do the “opening pitch” at what was then the Burlington Bandits was something to observe. It didn’t look as if baseball was a sport she excelled in – but she did get the ball over the plate.

Bandits - Gould opening pitch

The local baseball team didn’t need a pitcher – they did change their name the following season.

When word got out that Prime Minister Trudeau was going to shuffle his Cabinet everyone was pretty sure that Maryam Monsef was on her way out. But few predicted that Gould was on her way in.

She was given Democratic Institutions – and within days of getting back to the House of Commons she announced that the First Past the Post promise made during the election was dead in the water.

When Gould was interviewed on CBC’s The House, it was evident she had grown into the role of a Cabinet Minister quite quickly and was pretty good at dodging some of the questions. She gave the pretty pat statement that her job as Minister was to “protect, improve and make the election process more accessible” and she stuck to it.

Hall wanted to know when she learned that the Prime Minister was not going to make good on his election promise.

Gould explained: “We’ve listened to the public; there is no consensus so we are not going forward with this initiative.”

“When you took this job as minister of democratic institutions” asked Hall, “ did you know at that time that it was looking like the proposal to change the election system would fall ?”

Wallace and Gould

Mike Wallace, former Conservative MP, paying homage to Karina Gould on election night.

Gould responded: “When the Prime Minister asked me to join cabinet and when he asked me to take on this portfolio what he said to me was that he wanted me to make sure that I protect improve and make more accessible our Democratic institutions.”

Hall came back with: “The question was did you know at that time that you would be pulling away from the promise to have a different election system?”

Gould, sticking to her guns said: “My mandate letter was made public on Wednesday so I’m happy and looking forward to delivering on it.”

That 29 year old, with less than a month’s experience as a Cabinet Minister behind her performed admirably as a politician.

Nathan Cullen, NDP member for Skeena-Bulkley Valley in British Columbia, met with Gould the day before she as made a Cabinet minister and asked for some advice on what the Parliamentary committee could and should do next in its attempt to change the way we elect our governments.

Cullen did not know that she was about to be made a Cabinet Minister and Gould was not in a position to tell him.

What we are seeing is a young woman who has all the traits needed to become a strong politician. A good one; only time will tell.

Gould and PM Trudeau

Some thought this junior minister was being made a sacrificial lamb when made Minister of Democratic Institutions – she got past the barrage or criticism rather well. The Prime Minister will be keeping a closer eye on her.

While Burlington is very proud of her – the citizens needs to keep in mind the quote from Junius that appears at the top of the Globe & Mail editorial page.

“The subject who is truly loyal to the Chief Magistrate will neither advise or submit to arbitrary measures.”

The complete mandate letter an be found at:

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5 comments to The evolution of a politician: Gould handles an interview well – stick handles her way through awkward questions.

  • Casey

    I think there is a lot more to being a good politician than dodging questions. BTW Pepper, there is nothing more dangerous than not understanding what got one elected. It had nothing to do with campaigning. The country wanted Harper out, period, period, period. A lot of good campaigners lost in that election.

  • Let me get this straight. You admire Karina’s increased ability to avoid answering questions and spinning her answers? I think that’s why most people have low opinions of politicians. Shouldn’t a leader’s actions reflect their words?

    Watching Karina Gould evolve since the election, feels like a political version of “Breaking Bad”. I like the old Karina better when she made statements like these:

    Karina Gould June 2016
    “Electoral reform is the next step in this evolution toward a more inclusive system. We can build a better system that provides a stronger link between the democratic will of Canadians and the election results.”

    Karina Gould Sept 2016
    “The first-past-the-post system that we have is pretty good at producing majority governments but it’s often considered to be a false majority because our government and the previous Conservative government didn’t really go above 39%, 42% of the vote yet would have much more than 50% of the seats in the house.”

    Now, she says Canadians don’t have consensus on electoral refrom. What asked what would be a consensus, she couldn’t answer that either,

    For the record, consensus is when everyone agrees. IN a large group, consensus is a super majority (2/3) or better. Consensus is where people working together to solve a problem end up. Its not where they start. Not achieving consensus means the job isn’t over.

    I can’t know what Karina was thinking when she accepted this bag of excrement from Justin Trudeau. I hoped when I heard the bad news that she’d stand up to Trudeau and show everyone who voted for her in good faith, that their trust was well placed.

    Speaking of Trudeau. Why didn’t he break the bad news himself, considering his words:

    Justin Trudeau, December 2016
    “I make promises because I believe in them. I’ve heard loudly and clearly that Canadians want a better system of governance, a better system of choosing our governments, and I’m working very hard so that 2015 is indeed the last election under first-past-the-post. Canadians elect governments to do hard things and don’t expect us to throw up our hands when things are a little difficult. ‘Oh, it’s more difficult than we thought it could be’ and therefore we’re just just going to give up. No, I’m sorry, that’s not the way I was raised. That’s not the way I’m going to move forward on a broad range of issues, regardless of how difficult they may seem at a given point.”

    Yet when it came time to break the bad news, where was Trudeau? He sent Karina out by herself. He didn’t even have the guts to stand behind Karina in symbolic support. That’s cowardly imo.

    I also thought the timing of release was a little rushed, like they were trying to hide the news about breaking their promise to refrom our unfair electoral system behind a bigger news story around the same time that got far more national coverage.

    While you might admire these qualities in politicians, I don’t. IMO, Politics doesn’t get much sadder, self serving or cynical than this. The Trudeau Liberals never had any intention of reforming our election system or taking action on environmental issues. They were just empty words they used to steal support from the Green Party of Canada.

    I feel sad for Trudeau’s and Gould’s gift of political cynicism he gave to all the young Canadians who believed them. I doubt many of them will vote in the next election. Why would they?

    Vince Fiorito
    former GPC Candidate for Burlington 2015
    PS Since the election, I have not stopped trying to reform Canada’s electoral system and take action on the environment.

    Editor’s note: We didn’t say we admired the skill – we just noted that it existed.

  • Kurt Koster

    Agree with Dan. Obfuscating, and avoiding the truth is not my idea of a good politician. Karina may have started out with ideals, but she has already descended to a politician who says one thing and does another when it suits her and Trudeau’s cynical way of doing things.
    I disagree with Pepper’s statement: “What we are seeing is a young woman who has all the traits needed to become a strong politician.’ Not being forthright in answers and outright twisting the facts on the Electoral Reform issue (alternate facts? ) These are good traits?

  • James

    Seems to be a likeable person with lots of potential, just a shame she’s Liberal, meaning she’ll be voted out the next chance we get. Nothing personal, just the nature of politics.

  • Dan Lyons

    If “performing admirably as a politician” means the ability to dodge questions and avoid controversy by sticking to the party lines, I guess Karina has that going for her. What a shame.

    I would contend that a true leader, the PM included doesn’t cop out by saying “there is no consensus”. A true and great leader, takes a position and guides those who are not so inclined to see the light of a particular argument. Trudeau professed to believe that our electoral system is dysfunctional and even made it part of his platform – and yet he did not take the lead in either explaining the reasons why or advocating for change. We don’t need leaders who simply enforce the un-informed opinion of the masses or fail to act because there is a plethora of confusion and or lack of consensus. The liberals failed miserably to give Karina the chance to articulate her views on the subject and maybe, just maybe convince the masses of the merits of electoral reform. I was convinced she had the right stuff to both sell the concept to the masses and execute it in parliament. How disappointing that she didn’t get the chance to do either. Sadder still that it’s because of either an ulterior political agenda or lack of leadership.