Steven Del Duca fails to win provincial seat, resigns as Ontario Liberal leader

WATCH: Ontario Liberal Party Leader Steven Del Duca announced his resignation as party leader during his concession speech following the 2022 provincial election on Thursday evening. Del Duca said that the Liberals will be “led by a new leader” and that he had informed the party president of his decision to step down earlier that evening, asking for a leadership contest “as soon as is reasonable.”

Steven Del Duca has lost the riding of Vaughan-Woodbridge for the second consecutive election and resigned as leader of the Ontario Liberal Party.

PC Party incumbent Michael Tibollo held the seat he gained from Del Duca in 2018.

In his election night speech, Del Duca referenced the progress he felt the Ontario Liberals had made and the direction the party could move in.

“It will, however, be a movement that will be led by a new leader,” he told supporters. “Earlier this evening, I informed our party president of my decision to step down from the leadership of our party.”

Del Duca said a leadership race would be organized to take place “as soon as is reasonable.”

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Del Duca won the Ontario Liberal leadership race at the beginning of 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic began.

During the early stages of his leadership, he struggled to gain recognition across the province. He did not hold a seat in the legislature, leading the party from outside of Queen’s Park.

Polling conducted for Global News during the election campaign suggested that Del Duca was less recognizable to voters than either PC Leader Doug Ford or NDP Leader Andrea Horwath.

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According to the poll, conducted between April 29 and May 1, 25 per cent of respondents said they did not know enough about Del Duca to say whether they have a favourable impression of him or not.

Before this year’s campaign kicked off, Liberals said Del Duca’s lack of a seat actually positioned him well to focus on recruiting candidates and listening to voters.

He ditched his signature glasses shortly before the campaign began and once the race was on, he and the party made efforts to introduce the leader to people.

The Liberals ran a series of online ads in which Del Duca opened up about losing his brother to a car accident, his wife’s battle with cancer and his home life with his young daughters.

Del Duca swore he wouldn’t lose his seat again during the campaign — a reality he faced Thursday night.

“It’s true, I am disappointed to not have been successful here in my home community,” Del Duca said Thursday night.

The Liberal Leader campaigned across Ontario during the election, pushing to return his party from the depths of its 2018 defeat when the party won just seven seats.

The party won eight seats on Thursday.

His Liberal platform included plans to make COVID-19 vaccinations compulsory for school attendance, remove provincial HST on prepared foods under $20 and boost the minimum wage to $16 per hour by next year.

— With files from The Canadian Press

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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