A Canadian newspaper that says it has a "continuing interest" in starting another newspaper in Washington, D.C., has retained as a consultant a former high-ranking news executive of The Washington Star.

Sidney Epstein, 60, who was associate editor and associate publisher of the Star when it folded last month, was hired by The Toronto Sun to keep the company informed of developments on the Washington newspaper scene, Sun general manager Donald F. Hunt said yesterday.

"Basically, he will be on a retainer so that if there is something we are interested in pursuing, we will call on him" to provide information and insight, Hunt said.

The Toronto Sun, a morning tabloid established in 1971, also owns two other newspapers, The Edmonton Sun, established in 1978, and The Calgary Sun, acquired in 1980.

"For some time, our paper has felt it could find an audience for a product like ours in any large city . . . so when The Star announced it was closing its doors we felt the opportunity existed to consider the possibility of moving into Washington," Hunt said. "But we couldn't find press capability or press time, so we had to back out at the time," he said.

Hiring Epstein, a Washington newspaperman for four decades, will enable the Canadians to "stay on top of what is going on in Washington and see if it a Washington newspaper venture is worth pursuing further, Hunt said.

He said that the newspapers now published by The Sun focus heavily on sports and local news and "don't take themselves too seriously -- they are fun to read."