Food for Thought: Karina Gould on ministerial motherhood and electoral reform

Food for Thought with Minister Gould
WATCH ABOVE: Democratic Institutions Minister Karina Gould tells Vassy Kapelos that as the first female cabinet minister expecting a child in office, she is pushing for a maternity leave policy to help other young women who may be seeking political office and wanting to start a family.

In a few short weeks, Karina Gould is expected to make political history.

Currently well into her second trimester, the 30-year-old MP for Burlington and minister of democratic institutions will become the first member of the federal cabinet to give birth while in office.

During a recent lunchtime chat with The West Block‘s Vassy Kapelos, Gould said she and her caucus whip are still “working out” how she’ll balance her responsibilities at home and at work, but she’s excited for what lies ahead.

“Up until now, it hasn’t (impacted work) that much,” Gould said. “Being pregnant for every woman is a different experience … I think the bigger change will be once I actually have a baby.”

The House of Commons still doesn’t have a formal policy in place covering maternity leave, something that Gould said should probably change. There has been a steady increase in MP pregnancies, including the NDP’s Niki Ashton, who announced she was expecting during her leadership campaign last year.

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READ MORE: Niki Ashton’s pregnancy renews calls for better parental supports on Parliament Hill

“For me it’s really important that there are more women in politics. It’s important that we have that diversity of who we are as Canadians, and … it’s kind of novel that I’m pregnant and in politics, and I’d like that to be more normal,” Gould explained.

The youngest member of the federal cabinet, Gould will take an undetermined number of days off as someone else steps in to cover off her ministerial duties. That person’s name hasn’t been announced yet.

In the meantime, she will continue her mandated work as democratic institutions minister, a file she inherited last year in the midst of a firestorm of controversy over the Liberal promise to move ahead with changes to Canada’s voting system. Within a few weeks of taking over from Maryam Monsef, Gould had the unenviable task of explaining why the government would no longer be pursuing electoral reform.

READ MORE: Trudeau confronted about electoral reform on International Women’s Day 

WATCH: In this extended interview with Democratic Institutions Minister Karina Gould tells Vassy Kapelos she has been considering a number of changes to improve the election process moving forward. 
Extended Food for Thought with Minister Gould
Extended Food for Thought with Minister Gould

Asked if she felt like “the face of a broken promise,” Gould defended the choice.

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“I think we made the right decision,” she told Kapelos. “I think that obviously, people are — depending on what their feelings are and what their objectives are — are going to take it in different ways. But I think it was the right decision at the time.”

Gould also has no regrets about choosing a life in politics at such a young age.

“I made the decision when I was 26,” she said. “I had no idea what to expect. One of the greatest blessings that I’ve had is not having those expectations. Because every day has been wonderful, every day has been a learning experience.”

— Watch the full interview with Democratic Institutions Minister Karina Gould above.