When Liberal MPP Steven Del Duca was campaigning with Premier Dalton McGuinty over the summer, he came to two major realizations.
The first, he says, is that the premier apparently has no trouble connecting with everyday Ontarians.
“I was struck by the sense of understanding in people’s eyes, once they got over the shock that our premier was at their doorstep or grocery store, it was very obvious they were really blown away by how down to earth he is,” Del Duca said.
His second epiphany was a little more embarrassing.
“The second thing that struck me was that our premier speaks far better Italian than I do,” he said to peals of laughter from the crowd on election night.
As a new member of the legislature, Del Duca was recently sworn in and received a standing ovation from all members of the legislature, a rarity that only occurs during byelections.
“A lot of MPPs told me ‘Del Duca, enjoy this because this is as good as it gets. You’re never going to get all three parties giving you a standing ovation.’ ”
And while it was his first time sitting in the legislature, Del Duca is no newcomer to Queen’s Park. He’s been in the gallery and lobby many times before as a staffer.
“But to sit in the chamber among the other 106 MPPs was just a great feeling,” he said.
In his first question period, he asked Minister of Health Deb Matthews a question on the status of the Vaughan hospital.
Thus far, he’s already been to some constituency and caucus meetings, senior’s events and is working on getting his office up and running.
He’s also found himself to be better recognized in Vaughan.
“I think I have the benefit, by virtue of my hairstyle, that I’m a little more recognizable to people,” Del Duca said. “And then there’s a fair number of people, whether I’m at a Tim Hortons or a grocery store, they look over and on some level have some awareness, but they don’t always say something.”
That could change soon, as Del Duca acknowledges he made a lot of commitments during his campaign. Chief among them: seeing the hospital through to its construction, decreasing gridlock and sealing the deal on the Highway 427 extension.
But one of Del Duca’s more lighthearted promises may be what most resonates in Vaughanians’ minds.
“When I run for re-election, I promise I’ll say a little bit more in Italian.”