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'Not your grandfather’s Conservative party:' Rising stars eager to make their mark

Last Updated Jun 26, 2018 at 7:19 pm EST

They might not be called on immediately to serve as cabinet ministers in Ontario’s newly-elected Progressive Conservative government, but two incoming MPPs from the GTA are quietly being labelled as rising stars who could soon earn a place in Premier Doug Ford’s inner circle.

Stephen Lecce, King-Vaughan

Stephen Lecce is only 31 years old, but the MPP-elect for the riding of King-Vaughan already boasts an impressive political resume. Lecce held several senior roles in former Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s office, including Director of Media Relations, Communications Strategist and National Campaign Spokesperson.

Lecce caught the political bug at the age of 13, working as a volunteer on former provincial cabinet minister Al Palladini’s 1999 election campaign.

“I really did believe that the next generation has to step forward in politics,” said Lecce. “I ran in this election for the first time with a simple message. It’s to make sure that the next gen is set up to succeed and that they could achieve their full potential.”

A total of 76 Progressive Conservative MPPs will be sworn in on Friday. 48 of them are rookies, which is a point of pride for Lecce.

“This is not your grandfather’s Conservative party. This is a party that has 13 millennials elected, we have one Gen-X. 40 per cent of our caucus is women, achieved fully on their merit. This is a diverse, energized, generational movement that is ready to fight for people across our province.”

Prabmeet Sarkaria, Brampton South

Prabmeet Sarkaria is another first-time MPP. The 29-year-old was most recently practicing law as a corporate and commercial associate at Miller Thomson LLP.

The past two years have seen Sarkaria get engaged, married, nominated as a PC candidate and ultimately elected in the riding of Brampton South.

“We were at a crossroads in this province. We saw 15 years of Liberal waste, mismanagement and spending,” Sarkaria told CityNews. “Being involved in the community and listening to so many people, they really needed a voice in Brampton and I thought I could be that voice.”

Sarkaria says he’s already tweeted out his personal cell number to constituents. He believes the youth movement within his party will eventually change the way the government works at Queen’s Park.

“It’s a diverse group of candidates, young candidates. And sometimes the younger population, we get overlooked. I think this is a great opportunity for the younger generation to have a voice.”