WINDSOR, ONT. -- The Ontario Liberal Party’s newly minted leader is making rounds across the province and his first stop, post-convention victory, was in Windsor.

Steven Del Duca shook hands and took selfies during a campaign-style stop at downtown Windsor eatery Mazaar restaurant Monday night, where he thanked supports who helped elect him as the new party leader.

“We went into that convention energized, enthusiastic and feeling good,” he told the crowd. “We’ve come out of that convention as a unified political movement recognizing more clearly than before we now have 26 months until the next election will begin.”

“We need to be ready… for what I call the fight of our lives to take it to Doug Ford, to take Andrea Horwath and to once again, be part of an Ontario Liberal movement that delivers on progress and wins seats everywhere, including in Windsor, including Essex – with your help,” Del Duca said to cheers from the crowd of about 75.

The 47-year-old lost his Vaughan seat in the 2018 general election, when the Ontario Liberals were reduced to seven seats in the 122 seat legislature.

Del Duca served as the transportation and economic development minister during Kathleen Wynne’s tenure as Ontario premier. He edged out sitting Don Valley East MPP Michael Coteau, who placed second on the leadership ballot with 17 per cent support.

The party leader said job number one was unifying his party – a task he believes was achieved over the weekend. Now, he said the party needs to regain the trust of the electorate to take on the governing Progressive Conservative Party.

The fact that he served within former Premier Kathleen Wynne's cabinet isn't something MPP Lisa Gretzky thinks Del Duca should be bragging about.

"He's part of that old guard, I don't suspect anything is going to change under him," said Gretzky. The Windsor West New Democrat says he sat by Wynne's side while the government privatized Hydro One and claims Del Duca did nothing while housing prices went up and poverty levels increased in Windsor.

"I actually think the people of Windsor and Essex County will be offended by the fact that he came to Windsor and said he knows him and his party had a hard time in Windsor when really it's the people of Windsor and Essex County that suffered greatly for 15 years under the Wynne-Del Duca Liberal government," Gretzky said.

Before he officially declared, Del Duca said Windsor was the first part of Ontario he came to meet with Liberals and test if he should launch a leadership bid – and that’s why he made the Rose City his first stop on this post-convention tour.

“I know our party’s gone through a tough time in Windsor but I know we’re going to win again, we are going to win here in this region in 2022 and I’m here to make it very clear that I’m not surrendering any of the seats in Windsor and Essex to either of the other two parties,” he said. “We need Liberals, we need them elected and we need progress.”

Political science professor Lydia Miljan believes that will be difficult -- given the need to focus on fundraising and recruiting.

"Wynne was highly divisive, especially in the last election campaign and the party suffered as a result of it," Miljan said. "So to have a cabinet minister from her become the next leader, it doesn't signal renewal, it doesn't signal wholesale change."

Del Duca’s priorities moving forward include building an economy that is prosperous but fair, having a real plan to deal with climate change, bringing back a public education system that works for families and creating a public health care system that puts people in the centre of the decision-making process.

“Ontario is going badly off track and I want to correct that,” he said.

He recognized his party has a lot of work ahead, including finding 116 candidates that are not incumbents and the need to raise millions of dollars.