Howard Hampton, once head of the Ontario NDP and now a special paid adviser to NDP Leader Tom Mulcair, is being courted by the federal party to run in Northern Ontario in the coming federal election.
Hampton was appointed by Mulcair as a consultant on the Ring of Fire mining development project in Northern Ontario last November.
A spokesperson for the NDP says Hampton is being paid as an independent contractor by the Office of the Leader of the Opposition, but would not reveal the amount. Most recently, Hampton was working at the Toronto law firm Fasken-Martineau, but has since left that position.
The NDP says Hampton reports frequently to Mulcair and has made "several important policy initiatives and suggestions pertaining to Northern communities." He is also expected to present a final report to the party.
But sources also tell CBC News Hampton is being encouraged to become the NDP candidate in the riding of Kenora for the next election. Hampton was the Ontario MPP for the provincial riding of Kenora-Rainy River for 24 years. His current role as Mulcair's adviser was one of the reasons cited as for why he would make a strong candidate.
Hampton has yet to say whether he is interested in returning to politics. He was not made available for comment.
Northern Ontario important to NDP
The riding of Kenora may well become a heated race in the next election.
It is currently held by Minister of Natural Resources Greg Rickford, who is also working with Ontario on the Ring of Fire development plan for the federal government. Rickford won the riding for the Conservatives by more than 4,700 votes in the last election, with the NDP placing second.
Former Liberal MP and cabinet minister Bob Nault has also recently said he would like to represent the riding again. Nault was the MP for the area for 16 years.
Northern Ontario is a key battleground for all parties, but perhaps particularly for the NDP. The New Democrats currently hold four out of 10 ridings in the region — but that's down two from the results of the last election.
Sudbury's Glenn Thibeault resigned in December to run for the Ontario Liberals in a byelection being held this week. Bruce Hyer, two-time MP for Thunder Bay–Superior North, left the NDP caucus in 2012 to sit as an independent and later joined the Green Party.
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