01/14/2015 09:54 EST | Updated 03/16/2015 05:59 EDT

Liberals dispatch cabinet ministers to help win Sudbury byelection

TORONTO - Ontario's Liberals said Wednesday they would send in some high-profile cabinet ministers to help the party win back the Sudbury riding in the Feb. 5 byelection.

Health Minister Eric Hoskins, Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca, Infrastructure Minister Brad Duguid and other ministers will hold joint events in the northern Ontario city with Liberal candidate Glenn Thibeault.

Premier Kathleen Wynne is also returning to Sudbury later this week — the third visit this month — to help Thibeault, who was a New Democrat member of Parliament until he was appointed to be the Liberal candidate in the byelection.

Wynne's decision to lure Thibeault from the NDP instead of allowing the Liberal candidate in last June's election, Andrew Olivier, to run again upset some party loyalists in Sudbury.

Olivier, who finished less than 1,000 votes behind New Democrat Joe Cimino in June, is running as an independent in the byelection.

It was Cimino's surprise decision to resign in November, just five months after taking Sudbury from the Liberals, that prompted the need for the byelection.

The NDP candidate in the byelection, Suzanne Shawbonquit, issued a statement Wednesday saying the people of Sudbury will see through the Liberals' "desperate, last-ditch" visits to the city.

"For the last decade, the Liberals have ignored Sudbury as life got less affordable and jobs left town," said the NDP statement. "Now with a byelection on, a seat on the line and a candidate hand-picked by Toronto, the Liberals seem to have found the map to Sudbury."

Former Liberal cabinet minister Rick Bartolucci, who did not seek re-election last year, first won the Sudbury riding in 1995 from the New Democrats. The riding was held by the Progressive Conservatives from 1981 to 1987.

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