It wasn’t that long ago that Karina Gould was walking the halls of M.M. Robinson high school dreaming of the day she could do something to change the lives of millions of Canadians.
At 28, Gould is the youngest person to represent Burlington in the House of Commons since Progressive Conservative Sandy Best was MP for the former riding of Halton more than half-a-century ago.
Best, only 25 when he was elected for the first time in 1957, was the son of Dr. Charles Best, who with Dr. Frederick Banting co-discovered insulin. The Oakville scientist was part of John Diefenbaker’s first government and succeeded Georgetown lawyer Sybil Bennett, Halton’s first female Member of Parliament.
Gould was just 15 when Burlington MP Paddy Torsney came to the school to speak in her Civics class in 2001.
“I was so impressed with her,” Gould said. “It really inspired me to think it was a real possibility for me as a woman to become an MP.”
Gould, who worked as a volunteer on a couple of Torsney’s campaigns, recalls being glued to the TV to watch the results of the Quebec Referendum in 1995. She was just eight years old at the time.
“I was very nervous about what the results would be,” she said. “I remember Prime Minister Jean Chretien’s speech about keeping the country together afterwards.”
While her election was a surprise to many political pundits, who had forecast a 4th term for Wallace, the rookie Burlington MP said she was confident of victory. She started knocking on doors in September of 2014, more than a year before voting day.
“I know this community,” she said. “People were telling me that it’s a Conservative town, but I know it’s tolerant and passionate about the future. I knew there was an opportunity for change here. If people felt their voices mattered, I knew they would come out to vote. Ten thousand new people came out and voted this time, and boy did it count!”
Gould’s upset victory over Conservative incumbent Mike Wallace on Oct. 19 was not her first run for office. She was elected vice-president of the M.M. Robinson student council in 2003 and president in 2004, her final year of high school. Then in her final year at McGill University in Montreal, she was elected president of the school’s Arts Undergrad Society, which includes 6,000 undergraduate students.
After graduating from high school, Gould traveled to Puebla, Mexico, to volunteer in an orphanage for 18 months.
When she came home, she went back to McGill and completed a joint Honours degree in political science and Latin American studies. That led to a move to Washington, D.C., where she worked at the Organization of American States.
She now has a Master’s degree in International Relations from Oxford University in England and worked as a trade an investment specialist in Toronto before becoming a candidate.
While in Mexico she met her future husband Alberto Gerones, who was playing basketball for his university. He later played professionally.
The couple were married in Washington on Oct. 30, 2010 and recently celebrated their fifth wedding anniversary.
Because she was enrolled in the French Immersion program, Gould speaks French fluently. She learned Spanish during her time in Mexico and also speaks German, as a result of attending the German school at Oakville’s Queen Elizabeth Park high school every Saturday morning from age 4 to 15.
Her mother Gesa Kohn-Gould is a veterinarian. Her father Peter is general manager of the Dairy Farmers of Ontario. She has three younger brothers – Jonah, Aaron and Noah, all university students.
Gould plans to move into the office vacated by former Burlington MP Mike Wallace on the second floor of Burlington Mall on a temporary basis, but currently is searching for a new location.
“I want a place that is visible and has natural light so that if feels welcoming,” she said. “It’s really important to me that I am accessible.”
Written by: Denis Gibbons