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Howard George Hampton


Leader of the Ontario NDP
In office
June 22, 1996 – March 7, 2009
Preceded by Bob Rae
Succeeded by Andrea Horwath

Incumbent
Assumed office 
June 3, 1999
Preceded by first member

MPP for Rainy River
In office
September 10, 1987 – June 3, 1999
Preceded by Jack Pierce
Succeeded by riding dissolved

Born May 17, 1952 (1952-05-17) (age 57)
Fort Frances, Ontario
Political party New Democratic Party
Spouse(s) Shelley Martel
Relations Elie Martel, father-in-law
Children Sarah and Jonathan
Residence Fort Frances and Toronto, Ontario
Occupation lawyer
Religion United Church of Canada

Howard George Hampton, MPP (born May 17, 1952) is a Canadian politician. He has served in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, Canada, since 1987 as the Member of Provincial Parliament from the northern riding of Kenora—Rainy River. A member of the Ontario New Democratic Party, he was also the party's leader from 1996 to 2009.

Hampton's wife, Shelley Martel, was also an MPP until 2007, representing Nickel Belt.[1]

Contents

Biography

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Background and early career

Hampton was born in Fort Frances, Ontario to a blue collar family, George (April 17, 1928 - January 2, 2006) and Elsie (b. November 8, 1931) Hampton.[2] He was a good student, but also athletically gifted and politically active. He first joined the NDP when he was a teenager.

Hampton took an undergraduate degree in philosophy and religion from Dartmouth College, an Ivy League institution in New Hampshire, where he played for the school's D-I NCAA hockey team. He later obtained a degree in education from the University of Toronto and a law degree from the University of Ottawa. He worked as a lawyer for the Canadian Labour Congress, and for the provincial NDP government of Allan Blakeney in Saskatchewan.

Hampton sought election to the Ontario legislature under the NDP banner in the 1977 provincial election, placing third against incumbent Liberal Pat Reid and Progressive Conservative Gordon Thomson in Rainy River. He ran for the riding again in the 1985 provincial election, and lost to Progressive Conservative candidate Jack Pierce by 278 votes.

Provincial politics

Howard Hampton at Queen's Park addressing CUPE 3903 members protesting against back to work legislation during a York University strike

Hampton was elected to Queen's Park on his third attempt, in the provincial election of 1987. He was re-elected in the 1990 provincial election, in which the NDP won an unexpected majority government. On October 1, 1990, he was appointed Attorney General in the government of Bob Rae.

By all accounts, Hampton and Rae were not cabinet allies. Hampton disapproved of many of the Rae government's centrist policies; in particular, he opposed Rae's decision to retreat from an election pledge to introduce public automobile insurance in the province. Journalist Thomas Walkom has argued that Rae deliberately undermined Hampton's control over the Attorney General's office, staffing the ministry with bureaucrats to which he was ideologically incompatible. However, Walkom has also noted that Hampton supported Rae's decision to impose a Social Contract of wage restraints and cost-saving measures on Ontario public servants.

Following a cabinet shuffle on February 3, 1993, Hampton was demoted to Minister of Natural Resources, responsible for Native Affairs. Marion Boyd replaced him as Attorney General. The NDP were defeated in the provincial election of 1995, and Hampton re-elected over Progressive Conservative Lynn Beyak by only 205 votes.

Ontario NDP Leader

After Rae retired from politics, Hampton became the leader of the NDP on June 22, 1996, beating Frances Lankin, who was seen as a Rae ally and whom many had considered the front-runner, on the third ballot. Leadership candidate Peter Kormos and his support generally went to Hampton rather than Lankin, which was seen as important to Hampton's victory. Tony Silipo also ran for the leadership and would become Hampton's Deputy Leader until 1999.[2]

In the 1999 Ontario election, some progressives and union leaders, who had been a crucial source of NDP support before 1995, attempted to defeat Mike Harris, the Progressive Conservative premier, by abandoning the NDP for the Liberals. This tactical voting, commonly called "strategic voting," did not succeed in ousting the Harris government, but nearly decimated the NDP as they took just nine seats and 12 per cent of the popular vote in their poorest election showing since the 1950s. As Hampton was not judged to have been at fault, he stayed on as leader. Hampton himself faced a challenging re-election; the Harris government had reduced the number of ridings in Ontario from 130 to 103, and Hampton faced off against Frank Miclash, the Liberal MPP for the adjoining Kenora riding, in the amalgamated riding of Kenora-Rainy River. Hampton defeated Miclash by 3,000 votes.

Howard Hampton shares the stage at Mohamed Boudjenane's nomination meeting with fellow NDP politicians and candidates. Pictured from left to right; Rosario Marchese, MPP Trinity–Spadina; Mohamed Boudjenane, provincial candidate for Etobicoke North; Howard Hampton, Ontario NDP Leader; and Ali Naqvi, federal NDP candidate for Etobicoke North.July 9, 2007.

Hampton endorsed Bill Blaikie in the latter's unsuccessful bid for the federal New Democratic Party leadership in 2002. This decision was unpopular with some other members of his caucus, including Deputy Leader Marilyn Churley who was a leading supporter of Jack Layton.

In Harris' second term, the government unveiled plans to privatize the public electricity utility, Ontario Hydro. Hampton quickly distinguished himself as an advocate of maintaining public ownership of the utility, and published a book on the subject, Public Power, in 2003. Harris' successor as premier, Ernie Eves, ultimately reached the decision not to sell the hydro utility.

Hampton and the NDP won only seven seats in the 2003 Ontario election, losing official party status for the first time since 1963. However, Hampton retained his seat and the party increased its share of the popular vote by 2%. After intense lobbying to lower the minimum number of seats for party status, a compromise was reached which allowed additional funding for the NDP and more inquiry opportunities during Question Period.

Ultimately, this controversy was all for nought as on May 13, 2004, the NDP regained official party status in a by-election in Hamilton East, where city councillor Andrea Horwath was elected to fill the vacancy left by the death of Liberal member Dominic Agostino. When Marilyn Churley resigned her Toronto—Danforth seat in May 2005, the NDP was granted official party status at first until the by-election, and then until the 2007 provincial election; NDP candidate Peter Tabuns won the seat.

Recent polls suggest that the NDP may at long last be recovering its early 1990s levels of support. A July, 2006 Environics poll showed the Ontario NDP with 27% popular support, its highest level recorded since March, 1992, when Bob Rae's government was still in power.[3] However, in the poll, the NDP still trailed the governing Liberals who received 35% support and the Opposition Progressive Conservatives who led with 36%. Other polls have shown the NDP with 20-23% support, further behind the frontrunning parties but still well ahead of the popular vote the Party received in 2003.[4]

The Ontario NDP increased its seat count to nine in September 2006, when well-known local United Church minister Cheri DiNovo won a byelection. The seat became vacant when Liberal MPP Gerard Kennedy resigned to seek the Liberal Party of Canada leadership.

Hampton launched the Ontario NDP's 2007 provincial election campaign at the party's Fresh Ideas New Energy January 2007 policy convention. Hampton's keynote speech focused on the party's campaign to raise the minimum wage to $10 an hour, and signalled the NDP's renewed focus on matters of economic justice.[5] The NDP also unveiled a new logo and look.[6]

Hampton's NDP increased its seat count to 10 in February 2007, when businessman and community activist Paul Ferreira defeated star Liberal candidate Laura Albanese in a byelection in the Toronto riding of York South-Weston. The seat became vacant when Liberal cabinet minister Joe Cordiano resigned. The NDP's campaign for the $10 minimum wage and its opposition to a controversial 25% pay raise for MPPs are cited as key factors in the upset win.[7]

Despite several encouraging opinion polls that predicted a gain of several seats, Hampton's NDP failed to increase its seat count beyond 10 in the 2007 provincial election. While there was speculation following the election that he may retire Hampton announced at the November 24, 2007, NDP provincial council that he was staying as party leader.[8] He announced in April 2008 that he was considering his political future, and would make an announcement later in 2008 as to whether or not he will stay on further as the party leader.[9]

On June 14, 2008, Hampton announced that he would not stand for re-election as party leader at the March 2009 party convention.[10] He indicated, however, that he will continue to serve as the MPP for Kenora—Rainy River at least until the 2011 election. Hampton currently lives in Toronto with his wife Shelley and children Jonathon and Sarah. He maintains a summer residence on Rainy Lake in Fort Frances.

References

  1. ^ George Hampton, Ontario NDP leader's father, dies of heart attack, Niagara Falls Review (ON). Canada, Wednesday, January 4, 2006, p. A8. accessed on October 6, 2006.
  2. ^ a b Howard Hampton's father dies, Barrie Examiner (ON). News, Wednesday, January 4, 2006, p. A8. accessed on October 6, 2006.
  3. ^ Ontario Liberals tied with PCs as NDP support rises Environics News Release, July 18, 2006
  4. ^ http://www.electionalmanac.com/canada/ontario/polls.php accessed on December 10, 2006
  5. ^ Kerry Gillespie, "NDP leader wants $10 wage vote", Toronto Star, January 28, 2007
  6. ^ Canada News Wire, "Ontario's NDP moves forward with confidence, new look", January 26, 2007
  7. ^ Rob Ferguson, "NDP pulls upset", Toronto Star, February 8, 2007
  8. ^ Jared Stuffco, "Hampton to stay at NDP helm", Toronto Star, November 25, 2007
  9. ^ "NDP leader says he will soon reveal his political future", Canadian Press, April 5, 2008.
  10. ^ Keith Leslie, "Hampton to step down as NDP leader: Sources", Toronto Star. June 13, 2008.

Cabinet posts

Provincial Government of Bob Rae
Cabinet Posts (3)
Predecessor Office Successor
Ian Scott Attorney General
1990–1993
Marion Boyd
Minister of Natural Resources
1993–1995
Minister Responsible for Native Affairs
1993–1995

External links


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