Northern Ontario NDP support for Charlie Angus 'not automatic'

New Democrats across northern Ontario are right now voting for a new federal leader. Many are backing Timmins-James Bay MP Charlie Angus, but not everyone thinks he's the best choice.

First ballot voting for new federal NDP leader closes Oct. 1

Michael Mantha is the New Democrat MPP for Algoma-Manitoulin. (Radio-Canada)

Algoma-Manitoulin MPP Michael Mantha believes he's been looking across the hall at the next federal NDP leader for the past few years.

He is office neighbours at Queen's Park with Toronto area MPP Jagmeet Singh, who he is supporting in the leadership race.

"I've seen the man develop," Mantha says.

"We have the same family values and that's what's really key for me."

Mantha says he doesn't feel pressure to support fellow northern New Democrat Charlie Angus or any of the other "four fabulous candidates."

Timmins-James Bay MP Charlie Angus gestures after the final federal NDP leadership debate in Vancouver Sept. 10. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)

"Charlie will garner a great deal of support in this region, but I don't think it's automatic," says Bud Wildman, who was the New Democrat MPP for Algoma for 24 years.

He says that he has voted in the leadership race, but doesn't want to disclose who it was for, because he feels any of them would do a good job and doesn't want to officially endorse anyone.

"I'm not so enthusiastic about one particular candidate. I was a very difficult decision for me," says Wildman.

Many New Democrats in the north are in the Angus camp, but not everyone.

NDP power couple Howard Hampton and Shelley Martel, both former northern Ontario MPPs and cabinet ministers, are backing Quebec MP Guy Caron.

From left to right: Ontario MPP Jagmeet Singh, Quebec MP Guy Caron, Ontario MP Charlie Angus and Manitoba MP Niki Ashton. (Canadian Press )

Sudbury New Democrat Robert McCarthy is backing northern Manitoba MP Niki Ashton in the leadership race, but says many others in the party are surprised that he is not backing his fellow northerner.

"But that being said I don't feel pressured into supporting Charlie, because I am unflinching and unwavering," says the 30-year-old.

McCarthy says he agrees with Ashton's policies, but also feels she is the best bet out of the four to be prime minister one day.

"Principles lead to power," he says. "In the 2015 election, we allowed the Justin Trudeau Liberals to outflank us on the left. And I feel Niki Ashton is the best candidate to make sure that doesn't happen."