Ottawa

Cornwall makes history by electing first female mayor

The City of Cornwall made history Monday by electing Bernadette Clement its first female mayor, and possibly the first black woman elected mayor in Ontario.

Bernadette Clement may also be 1st black woman elected mayor in Ontario

Bernadette Clement said she's humbled and proud to be the city's first female mayor, and possibly the first black woman elected mayor in Ontario. (CBC)

The City of Cornwall made history Monday by electing its first female mayor.

Bernadette Clement, a city councillor for the last 12 years, handily defeated fellow councillor David Murphy and incumbent Mayor Leslie O'Shaughnessy, according to unofficial results.

Clement, who claimed nearly 54 per cent of the vote, said she's "humbled and proud" to make history, possibly in more ways than one.

What I hope is that there are all sorts of young people out there who are watching this and understanding that this is just part of our history now.- Cornwall mayor-elect Bernadette Clement

"I hear that I'm the first black female mayor in Ontario," said Clement, who is also francophone.

"What I hope is that there are all sorts of young people out there who are watching this and understanding that this is just part of our history now."

Clement works as the executive director of the SDG Legal Clinic in Cornwall.

Her mother is French Canadian and her father was born in Trinidad.

Bernadette Clement, a city councillor for the last 12 years, made history when she was elected mayor of Cornwall on Monday. 0:46

Hopes to inspire others

While she didn't make her heritage part of her campaign, Clement said she hopes conversations she had with women and girls along the way will inspire them to one day run for office, too.

Lifelong Cornwall resident Linda Leroux said Clement's victory demonstrates how open-minded the community has become.

"Fantastic," she said. "I think it's time for women to take a stand and show what they can do."

Derek Scott, who recently moved to Cornwall to retire, echoed that sentiment.

"She's a visible minority, she's a fresh mind in the city hall and I hope that she'll do some positive changes here in the city," Scott said.

She's the first woman to win the mayor's seat in Cornwall, and also the first black female mayor in Ontario. We check in with Bernadette Clement about her big win. 8:50

Clement said there's still more work to do when it comes to gender parity and diversity, but believes the shifting attitudes could help attract new residents to Cornwall.

"If there are investors out there or people who want to move here because they feel that Cornwall is progressive or on the move, then so be it."