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On Sunday, the people of Montreal elected the first female mayor in the city’s 375-year history. Valerie Plante, with her infectious laugh, genuine smile and sense of humour, is not at all what you would expect from a politician; she seems almost too good to be true. Plante is a relative newcomer to politics and as recently as September, very few would have said that she had a chance at beating veteran politician and current mayor Denis Coderre. Through some ‘back to basics’ campaigning and a lot of fumbling by the opposition, Plante was able to pull it out in the end with 51 per cent of the vote to Coderre’s 45.

Nous avons marqué l’histoire. Merci Montréal! 😍 #whoruntheworld #Montreal #polmtl #mtlmoments

A post shared by Valérie Plante (@val_plante) on

Plante didn’t go for the flashy projects that mayoral candidates tend to promise (and then not deliver on) and instead, campaigned on a platform of fixing what’s really getting Montrealers down: public transportation. Despite Coderre’s support from the local press and business leaders, Plante’s focus on practical mobility–more buses and a new subway line–served her well. Her win is not only one for women, but it shows that fresh faces do have a place in politics (and not just in the Donald Trump way). You don’t have to be part of the establishment to make a difference.

‘I want to say how proud I am to be the first female mayor of Montreal,’ she told CTV, ‘There is a place for women, for people with different backgrounds, for people who are not formatted–who don’t have a long political career behind them. Me being elected says that it’s okay to be yourself with your background, your experience and you should jump in… And I’m sure we’re going to see more women in the upcoming years.’

Not only is Plante the first female mayor of Montreal, she is the only female mayor among North America’s 10 largest cities (of which Montreal is ninth). That speaks volumes about how friendly politics remains to women–i.e. not very friendly–but it’s a step toward getting that representation out there and normalizing it.

And we have to say, Plante seems like some pretty good representation. She is an anti-poverty activist, works with victims of domestic assault and is described as genuine and likable by pretty much everyone. She marched with Justin Trudeau at the Montreal Pride Parade, does triathlons, is a mom of two and we dare you to find a photo of her where she isn’t smiling the biggest grin you’ve ever seen. Even her campaign posters were witty, claiming she was ‘the man for the job.’

There is some criticism surrounding Plante’s ability to follow through with all her campaign promises–specifically, her proposed new subway line–but she says she’ll find a way to make it happen. Reality may prove to be cruel (as often happens with campaign promises) but for now, Plante has that ‘new politician smell’ and she just made history. Hooray for women in politics!

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