Liberal Steven Del Duca swept to victory Thursday night, keeping the riding red following the departure of Liberal Greg Sorbara.
Del Duca received 51 percent of the popular vote and was met by a raucous crowd when he arrived with Premier Dalton McGuinty to the Supreme Banquet and Convention Centre in Woodbridge.
Del Duca beat his nearest rival, Progressive Conservative candidate Tony Genco, by more than 5,000 votes.
Calling it a surreal moment, with his wife by his side, Del Duca told a poignant story about how he told his wife he wanted to be the MPP for Vaughan during their first lunch date.
“I told her that back in early April 2003 — and you know what? To her credit, she still married me,” he said to chuckles from the crowd.
McGuinty congratulated Del Duca, who served as Sorbara’s executive assistant in 2001, on his hard-fought campaign and thanked Vaughan residents for choosing his Liberal party.
“I’m very, very honoured by the choice made by the people of Vaughan in electing Steven Del Duca,” he said.
The premier said the victory was encouraging for his party considering the state of the province’s economy.
“Winning a byelection in government is never an easy thing at the best of times,” he said. “And these are not the easiest of times. It’s a more challenging time.”
Del Duca, who was flanked by both McGuinty and Sorbara during his speech, thanked his predecessor, the premier, his campaign team, the people of Vaughan and most importantly, his parents, wife and two children.
“Among other things, the primary reason I threw my hat in the ring in this campaign, was to make sure that this community, Vaughan, stays as wonderful as it is for them, as it was for me,” he said.
As Del Duca and the premier made their way through the crowd, supporters traded light-hearted banter such as “Don’t break your promises!”
“I won’t, I don’t want to get in trouble next time!” Del Duca responded.
In a scrum with reporters, the premier said he was pleased with the evening’s results despite not winning his much-coveted majority.
“I’m just really honoured by the fact that we’re in government, we’ve won a byelection, we’ve got a great new MPP,” he said.
“Tonight is a night to celebrate, but tomorrow is back to work,” he added. “We will continue to work with the other two opposition parties and we will continue to find common ground.”