This northern, mixed urban/rural riding surrounds the riding of Sudbury.
It has a strong Francophone presence, with approximately 34 per cent
calling French their mother tongue.
The riding encompasses Val Caron, Hamner, Capreol, Coneston, Nickel
Belt, Rayside-Balfour, Valley East and Walden. Also in this riding are
the Mattagami and Whitefish Lake native reserves.
Natural resources, especially mining, play an important part in the
As a result of the 1999 redistribution, the new Nickel Belt riding
combined the majority of the old Nickel Belt with two-thirds of the
old Sudbury East.
Nickel Belt is one of the few long-standing NDP strongholds in the province,
and has been for more than 30 years.
In 1971, the NDP's Floyd Laughren beat two-term Tory incumbent. Laughren,
who served as minister of finance in the Bob Rae government, held the
seat until 1998, when he resigned to become head of the Ontario Energy
Board. NDP candidate Blain Morin won the resulting byelection, but did
not run in the 1995 general election.
In the old riding of Sudbury East, the NDP's Elie Martel won every
election from 1967 to 1985. In 1987, his daughter Shelley Martel won
the seat, and later served in the Bob Rae cabinet. Shelley resigned
in 1994 (the same year she married fellow MPP Howard Hampton), but ran
again in 1995 and 1999, winning both times.