Seven people who want to be the next federal NDP leader chased votes in northern Ontario this weekend. The candidates met in a debate Sunday afternoon in Sudbury and answered a lot of questions about how the party will do that in the next election.

The audience, who packed the new United Steelworkers Hall on Brady Street, Feb. 5, asked questions like: Should the party focus on Quebec or Western Canada? How close should the NDP be to labour unions?

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NDP leadership hopefuls took part in a northern Ontario leadership debate Feb. 5.

Quebec MP and former provincial Liberal minister Thomas Mulcair argued the New Democrats need to shift into the centre.

"By reaching beyond our traditional base we can unite enough progressives to form an NDP government," he said.

British Columbia MP Nathan Cullen, who has caused a stir by suggesting the NDP and Liberals should join forces in certain ridings, said that's the best way to get the Tories out of government.

"I want to get things done," Cullen said. "I didn't get into politics to win debates. I got in to make things better."

New Democrats will choose their new leader on March 24.

Sunday’s Northern Ontario Leadership Forum was organized by the Sudbury and Nickel Belt NDP.

The debators:

Niki Ashton, MP Churchill, Man.

Nathan Cullen, MP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, B.C.

Paul Dewar, MP Ottawa Centre, Ont.

Thomas Mulcair, MP Outremont, Que.

Peggy Nash, MP Parkdale—High Park, Toronto, Ont.

Martin Singh, pharmacist, businessman, N.S.

Brian Topp, political strategist, union leader, Ont.