Howard Hampton

From Academic Kids

Missing image
Ontario NDP Leader Howard Hampton

Howard Hampton (born May 17, 1952) is the leader of the Ontario New Democratic Party (NDP) and a Member of Provincial Parliament from the northern riding of KenoraŚRainy River.

He was born in Fort Frances, Ontario to a blue collar family. He was a good student, but also athletically gifted and politically active, getting involved with the NDP as a teenager.

He took an undergraduate degree in philosophy and religion from Dartmouth College, which he attended on a hockey scholarship. 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 NDP government of Allan Blakeney in Saskatchewan.

Hampton first ran for the Ontario legislature in the provincial election of 1977, placing third against incumbent Liberal Pat Reid and Progressive Conservative Gordon Thomson in the riding of Rainy River. He ran for the riding again in the 1985 provincial election, this time losing to Progressive Conservative Jack Pierce by 78 votes.

Hampton was finally 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 named Attorney General in the government of Bob Rae.

By all accounts, Hampton and Rae were not cabinet allies. Hampton represented the left-wing of the NDP, and 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. The NDP were defeated in the provincial election of 1995, and Hampton re-elected over Progressive Conservative Lynn Beyak by only 205 votes.

After Rae retired from politics, Hampton became the leader of the NDP on June 22, 1996, beating Frances Lankin, who 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.

Missing image
Hampton during an Interview

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 against Liberal Frank Miclash, but was able to win fairly convincingly.

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 a passionate 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, was ultimately forced to back down on selling the hydro utility.

Hampton and the NDP won only seven seats in the 2003 Ontario election, losing official party status. However, Hampton retained his seat and the party won a larger share of the popular vote than it had in 1999. After intense lobbying to lower the minimum number of seats for party status, embarrassing the new government in that they were failing to follow the spirit of their promise of electoral reform, a compromise was reached which allowed additional funding for the NDP and more inquiry opportunities during Question Period.

On May 13, 2004, the NDP regained official party status in a by-election in Hamilton East, Ontario, where city councillor Andrea Horwath was elected to fill the vacancy left by the death of Liberal member Dominic Agostino.

Hampton was widely thought to have considered stepping down as leader after the election. However, the party's precarious standing in the House and the lack of an obvious successor made it difficult for him to move on.

Since the election, the NDP has been a feisty presence in the Ontario legislature. However, that has failed to translate into a significant improvement in popular support. Recent polling by Leger and Leger shows the Liberals at 44%, the PCs at 33% and Hampton's NDP still trailing badly at 19%. After losing party status in two successive elections, the pressure will be on Hampton to bring the NDP back to its traditional levels of support.

In May of 2005, deputy NDP leader Marilyn Churley announced she would be resigning her seat to run in the next federal election in the riding of Beaches-East York. Her leaving pushes the NDP back down to 7 seats, although the government has agreed to continuing funding the NDP as a political party unless they lose the subsequent by-election.

Hampton's wife, Shelley Martel, is also an MPP, representing Nickel Belt.

Missing image

Preceded by:
Bud Wildman

Ontario NDP leaders

Succeeded by:


Academic Kids Menu

  • Art and Cultures
    • Art (
    • Architecture (
    • Cultures (
    • Music (
    • Musical Instruments (
  • Biographies (
  • Clipart (
  • Geography (
    • Countries of the World (
    • Maps (
    • Flags (
    • Continents (
  • History (
    • Ancient Civilizations (
    • Industrial Revolution (
    • Middle Ages (
    • Prehistory (
    • Renaissance (
    • Timelines (
    • United States (
    • Wars (
    • World History (
  • Human Body (
  • Mathematics (
  • Reference (
  • Science (
    • Animals (
    • Aviation (
    • Dinosaurs (
    • Earth (
    • Inventions (
    • Physical Science (
    • Plants (
    • Scientists (
  • Social Studies (
    • Anthropology (
    • Economics (
    • Government (
    • Religion (
    • Holidays (
  • Space and Astronomy
    • Solar System (
    • Planets (
  • Sports (
  • Timelines (
  • Weather (
  • US States (


  • Home Page (
  • Contact Us (

  • Clip Art (
Personal tools