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Former Ontario Liberal leader Steven Del Duca announces run for Vaughan mayor

Former Ontario Liberal leader Steven Del Duca announced Tuesday he is running to be mayor of Vaughan, Ont., in the October municipal election.
Former Ontario Liberal leader Steven Del Duca says he is running for Vaughan mayor in the October municipal election. Del Duca speaks to journalists following an announcement in Etobicoke, Ont., on Wednesday, May 11, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

Former Ontario Liberal leader Steven Del Duca announced Tuesday he is running to be mayor of Vaughan, Ont., in the October municipal election.

Del Duca, who was named Liberal leader in 2020, resigned in June after the Liberals won just eight seats in the provincial election, failing to secure official party status for the second consecutive time. Del Duca was also unable to win his own riding of Vaughan-Woodbridge.

On Tuesday, he said he has spent the past two months reflecting on his future and how best to serve his community.

“I believe passionately in public service and I feel that I have a responsibility to give back," he said in a statement. 

"I am running for mayor and humbly asking for support to continue providing Vaughan residents with stable, thoughtful and progressive leadership at city hall.”

Del Duca's entry into Vaughan's race means that both provincial party leaders who resigned on election night are now seeking a mayoralty.

Former NDP leader Andrea Horwath announced last month she would be running for mayor of Hamilton. She won her riding of Hamilton Centre in the June election, but stepped down as leader after four straight elections. Horwath resigned her provincial seat this week.

They are not the only former provincial politicians making mayoral bids this year, nor even the only former provincial party leaders. Toronto Mayor John Tory is a former leader of the Progressive Conservatives, as is Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown.

Among other examples are former Liberal cabinet minister Bob Chiarelli who is running for mayor in Ottawa, a job he held previously, former Liberal cabinet minister Jeff Leal who is running for mayor in Peterborough, and Cambridge Mayor Kathryn McGarry, also a former Liberal cabinet minister, who is running again.

Amanda Galbraith, a principal at public relations firm Navigator and former communications director for Tory, said some people are just "political animals" and look to give back to the community in a role at whatever level has some availability.

"For someone who loves politics, who wants to be engaged in it, I think it's a pretty natural stepping stone," she said.

"There's a long history of it, jumping around to different jurisdictions. see a lot of trustees to city councillors, to higher elected offices, etc, but to my mind, I don't think being an MP or being an MPP is fancier than being a mayor. I actually think mayors have a lot more clout and power in this country than those other offices, frankly, just because of the structure of them."

Stéphanie Chouinard, a professor of political science at Royal Military College, said it's not surprising to see former provincial politicians make the jump to municipal politics because local issues are often encountered by provincial representatives.

"Where it becomes a problem is that there's already an apathy in municipal politics...and having candidates that have had a long lifespan already in politics, first of all, makes it more daunting for new voices to consider entering politics," Chouinard said.

"For municipal politics, it makes it look like a consolation prize, like a second choice."

Ontario's municipal elections are set to be held on Oct. 24.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 16, 2022.

Allison Jones, The Canadian Press