CORNWALL, Ontario – At a Special Meeting on Thursday, July 8 Cornwall City Council voted for Councillor Glen Grant to be the next Mayor of Cornwall to fill the vacancy left by former Mayor Bernadette Clement.
“I’m not much of a crier, but somethings kind of get you,” said an emotional Grant. “I want to thank you for this honour. The job is easy because we have such a darn good administration.”
Council held the vote after choosing to pick the next mayor from within rather than going to a by-election.
Grant was elected six votes to two. Councillor Justin Towndale was the only other candidate nominated for the job.
At the meeting, each candidate gave a brief speech explaining their qualifications for the job.
“I believe that with the support of my fellow councillors we can move the agenda forward, we can move the strategic plan. Bernadette paved that road and we have to follow that road and keep paving it,” Grant said.
Grant also stressed wanting to build closer ties to the United Counties of SD&G and the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne.
Councillor Towndale similarly had a message of continuity and relationship building, but also took the time to address a previous Code of Conduct violation for which he was reprimanded earlier this year.
Towndale was reprimanded at Councils March 22 meeting for social media posts that were critical of City Administration.
“I am human, I have to accept full responsibility for my mistakes and I do,” Towndale said. “To the CAO I apologize and I’m not doing that tonight just to get your support, but this is the first opportunity I have had to do that in person.”
Towndale, who is a reservist with the Canadian Armed Forces stated that his training with the service was complete and that it would not interfere with his duties as Mayor if elected.
Councillor Towndale was nominated by Councillor Eric Bergeron who stressed that he would have preferred that Council run a by-election to fill the vacant Mayor’s seat, but said that since Towndale received more votes than any other councillor in the 2018 election that this made him the best candidate from among his colleagues to be the next Mayor.
Councillor Elaine MacDonald nominated Grant to be Mayor and stated that she supported him because he was straightforward, responsive and honest.
Councillor Claude McIntosh, who explained he is a lifelong friend of Grant’s, seconded the nomination, and noted that Grant would not be running for re-election in 2022.
McIntosh also took time to address issues raised by members of the Coalition for Unity, Respect, Equality/Equity for All (CUREA) who in a letter to media last month outlined statements and actions of Grant which they felt did not reflect the spirit of diversity.
McIntosh pointed to Grant managing the campaign of Eric Duncan, who is the MP for Stormont, Dundas, South Glengarry and is openly gay. Additionally, Grant supported Bernadette Clement for Mayor, who became the first black female Mayor in the history of Ontario. He also supported Deputy Cornwall Police Service Chief Shawna Spowart, also openly gay, to become the next Chief of Police.
Prior to Thursday’s vote, Seaway News reached out to former Mayor, Senator Bernadette Clement, for a comment on Grant possibly succeeding her as Mayor and on CUREA’s critiques of his fitness for the job and received the following statement:
I have much respect for the work of the CUREA Board Members. They are inspired by the movements and shifts that are happening in communities across this country and are working on actions that support equity, diversity and most importantly, inclusion. I worked hard, and it was an honour to do so, at highlighting the need for and benefit of inclusion and full participation in community life, and at supporting the importance of a respectful and productive relationship with our neighbours and economic partners, the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne. This work was done with the full support and encouragement of City Council. We built this momentum together. I believe that Councillor Grant, or indeed, any one of the Councillors who might become Mayor, understands that the continued building of respectful relationships is the way forward for our community. I will add that this Council has also shown itself to be innovative during the term and so there may be interesting and respectful conversations about how they will decide to deal with the vacant Councillor seat once a new Mayor has been selected. I must repeat what I said at the last Council meeting, that I believe that the City is in good hands with this Council and that they will properly handle the rest of this term. – Senator Bernadette Clement
Senator Clement resigned as Mayor after being appointed to the Senate of Canada last month.
In the final tally for the vote for Mayor, councillors Elaine MacDonald, Claude McIntosh, Todd Bennett, Maurice Dupelle, Carilyne Hébert, and Syd Gardiner voted for Grant, with councillors Eric Bergeron and Dean Hollingsworth voting for Towndale.
Grant will officially be sworn in as Mayor of Cornwall at Council’s next regular meeting on Monday, July 12.