Steven's Open Letter to Ontario Liberals

Version française ici.

In the months to come, the Ontario Liberal Party will launch a leadership campaign.

And I want you to hear it from me directly: I’m in, and I am asking for your support.

Together, we have the capacity to build a modern, province-wide, volunteer-driven political force that is ready to succeed in 2022. This is our mission, and here’s my solemn promise to you:

I will dedicate all of my skills, energy and experience to do whatever I can, standing shoulder to shoulder with you, to make it happen.

This is my 31st consecutive year serving as a proud Ontario Liberal. I began as a 15 year old riding volunteer in 1988 who was awestruck early-on by government’s ability to improve people’s lives.

I’ve been a riding president, campaign manager, OYL campus club president, executive council member, political staff-person, candidate, MPP and Minister. My passion for political activity has enabled me to forge lasting friendships, meet the woman who would become my wife, visit every corner of our incredible province and make decisions that I believe will positively impact people for years.

I wouldn’t trade what I’ve learned, who I’ve met or what I’ve experienced over that time for anything.

But this campaign is about our future, not simply my past.

It’s up to us – all of us – to write the next compelling chapter of Ontario Liberalism’s story. If we do it right, and I am certain we can, we will be able to get our province back on track after the next election.

To me, it’s not about moving our Party to the left or to the right. It’s about winning the next election so that we can move Ontario forward.

I am an Ontario Liberal because I believe in progress. I believe in results. And I believe that our work to deliver on a positive plan for the people we represent is never finished.

There is no doubt that I am ambitious. But my ambition is based on the unbridled belief that Ontario can be so much more than it is today. And this belief – this passion – this ambition motivates me to work harder, push further and refuse to accept second-best.

Progress means that every single Ontarian be given a fair chance to go as far in life as their talent and effort will take them.

Progress means that we build a strong and just economy that prioritizes the dignity of workers, supports entrepreneurship and celebrates success.

Progress means that we safeguard our universal health care system, and improve it by measuring success, and guaranteeing access and quality both to care and prescription medications.

Progress means that we strengthen our public education system by aligning skills with good jobs, and by enabling genuine life-long learning as the best way to achieve individual economic prosperity.

Progress means that we focus on the people and places left behind for too long, because every Ontario community – rural, remote, urban and suburban – deserves a fair shake and a voice at the table.

Progress means that we confront climate change head-on, protect the Greenbelt and ensure that Ontarians have clean air and water.

And progress means that we accomplish all of this, and more, while investing people’s money responsibly, and never losing sight of the fact that they work hard and will be entrusting us with their future.

I am running to lead a Party, and ultimately a government, that delivers on this kind of progress.

The kind of progress that people like my parents depend upon.

My Mom and Dad came to Canada from Scotland and Italy respectively – both at twenty years of age. They chose to settle here because they had been told that this was a place that provided all newcomers with opportunity. Success was never guaranteed, but it was legitimately possible.

Dad worked in construction management, helping thousands of Ontario families realize their dream of home-ownership. And Mom worked in education and law, and then started her own thriving small business at Toronto’s St. Lawrence Market.

They didn’t believe in shortcuts, and they never complained. When they faced challenges, they worked even harder.

The single greatest lesson that they taught me and my siblings, is that hard work and tenacity mixed with real opportunity is an absolutely unbeatable combination.

My story is very much an Ontario story. But I know that it’s not the whole story.

For too many people in our province today, opportunity remains elusive and out of reach. Put simply, we will never be at our collective best while so many of our neighbours live in the shadows and on the fringes.

Creating real opportunity – for everyone – must remain the primary motivation of the next Ontario Liberal government. And being prepared with a compelling plan that gives life to this vision must be at the heart of the OLP rebuilding effort.

The next provincial election will take place on June 2nd, 2022 – three years and two months from today.

And we have a ton of work to do to be ready.

Driving up our membership numbers, raising literally millions of dollars, nominating a record number of non-incumbent candidates, and kickstarting a platform and policy process that takes advantage of the talent we have within our own ranks is just a partial list of what’s required.

And just as my parents learned as they started their life together, Ontario Liberals must remember that there are no shortcuts to success. There are no easy, magical routes to victory. And no one individual will be able to do what’s needed all on their own.

It’s time for us to challenge ourselves to never stop working, listening and learning.

It’s time for us to modernize our approaches by measuring what matters.

It’s time for us to be open and honest about how we can constantly improve our performance.

It’s time for us to reinvent the concept of accountable leadership so that people will once again place their faith in our ability to govern.

And it’s time for me to step-up and share my ideas about how best to renew OLP – so that’s exactly what I’m doing.

Today, I’m launching my Pledge for Party Progress which includes ideas that, taken together, will give our membership a strong sense of how I propose to lead OLP.

Here are just a few examples:

OLP candidates need to reflect Ontario, and they also need the time to be ready to win.

  • I believe that nominations should begin no later than October 1, 2020 and that at least 100 OLP candidates be nominated by December 31, 2021. I want us to create an OLP “30 under 30” meaning that at least 30 of our 124 candidates will be under the age of 30; and I will insist that at least 50% of our candidates are women.

OLP fundraising needs to be transformed so that it’s decentralized, diversified and convenient.

  • I will work with the Party to develop and launch the Victory Tap, an app-based fundraising platform that will enable every member to raise an unlimited number of smaller donations (in increments up to $100) for their PLA and/or OLP by tapping a donor’s credit card on their smartphone.

OLP Leaders need to be accountable and alignment with the our grassroots needs to be real.

  • I want us to consider a future constitutional amendment to create the Accountability Assembly, which would consist of 124 PLA Presidents, 124 candidates (either immediate past or newly nominated) and all of Executive Council. Seventy-percent of this 268-person assembly would have the power to trigger a leadership review once every four years (over and above the review that already occurs at the first AGM after every election).

My Pledge for Party Progress can be found here, but I want to stress, this is only the beginning of our conversation.

I sincerely hope that you will join me on this important journey – I want your ideas, advice and feedback. And you have my commitment that I will never stop working to earn your support.

Because Ontario is counting on us. And better can’t wait.

Yours truly,
Steven Del Duca