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Sudburians rally around northern Ontario MP Charlie Angus at NDP leadership debate

NDP supporters cheered on their preferred candidates at a federal leadership debate on Sunday at Cambrian College in Sudbury, Ont., and Timmins-James Bay MP Charlie Angus came out as a local favourite.

Federal party to hold leadership nomination meeting in fall 2017

Federal NDP leadership hopefuls held their third debate on Sunday at Cambrian College in Sudbury, Ont. (Joel Ashak/Radio-Canada)

NDP supporters cheered on their preferred candidates at a federal leadership debate on Sunday at Cambrian College in Sudbury, Ont.

"I was very impressed by all the candidates on a human level," Jordon Williams, 22, said.

"They all do have an interest in youth now ... To continue to get the youth vote, they have to go on campuses, they have to go to high schools, they have to show students are actually important to this [NDP] cause."

Particularly, Williams and Kaella-Marie Earle, 25, said they were impressed by the performance of regional candidate Charlie Angus, who is the MP of Timmins-James Bay. 
Kallea-Marie Earle, 25, and Jordon Williams, 22, are supporting Timmins-James Bay MP Charlie Angus in his bid for federal NDP leadership. (Olivia Stefanovich/CBC)

"He's not afraid to talk to us at the ground level," Earle said.

"I think that's what younger people want to see is a politician that's approachable."

No debate about national housing strategy

Regional issues such as the northern economy, Indigenous reconciliation and resource development were raised.

But Charles Tossell said he was disappointed that the need for a national housing strategy was hardly mentioned. 

"I mean, we need more supportive housing units here," Tossell said.

"It's very short supplied. We need more of it and less of the regular social housing units."

Tossell is still indecisive about which candidate he would like to see become the next leader of the NDP, but said he has narrowed his choice down to Angus, Niki Ashton and Guy Caron.
Charles Tossell, Sudbury, Ont., NDP supporter, is still deciding who to support in the national NDP leadership race. (Olivia Stefanovich/CBC)

'Managed to keep my support'

"We are easy to ignore. We're not a big democratic mass," France Gelinas, NDP Nickel Belt MPP, said about northern Ontario.

"We don't represent many seats so it's easy to put the focus anywhere but us. I know that with Charlie [Angus], he will always keep us in the focus so, so far he's managed to keep my support."

This was the first time Gelinas saw her provincial colleague, Jagmeet Signh, discuss federal issues instead of provincial matters, and she added that he also did "very well."

NDP has potential to be 'conduit for all progressive movements in Canada'

Beth Mairs, who wants to win the provincial NDP nomination in the Sudbury riding, took in the debate in the hopes of seeing a new vision for her party.  

"We have the potential to be the conduit for all the progressive movements in Canada." Mairs said.

"We haven't. We haven't been that for some time and I think now is the time that we see that potential."

Mairs and other want-to-be Queen's Park representatives will take to the podium in a month's time for the Sudbury provincial NDP nomination. 

Meanwhile, the national party is expected to declare a new leader in fall 2017.