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New NDP Ad Says Thomas Mulcair Is 'Ready,' Shares Leader's Family History

"He is a different kind of leader."

OTTAWA — The NDP plans to release a new TV ad on Wednesday aimed at introducing Canadians to the party’s leader, Thomas Mulcair, and telling them he is ready for the country’s top job.

The new 60-second spot features Mulcair talking about his upbringing as the second oldest in a middle-class family of 10.

“My family’s story is like that of millions of Canadians,” Mulcair says. “We worked hard. Lived within our means. And looked out for each other.”

Mulcair says he worked to pay his way through law school and dedicated himself to public service because he wanted to help others. These, he says, are the values that have guided him throughout his life and will guide him if he becomes prime minister.

The ad, which is titled: “I’m Ready,” is a not-so-subtle comparison to Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau’s privileged upbringing as the eldest child of prime minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau. The Conservative party is currently spending millions of dollars attacking the Liberal leader in television attack ad as being “just not ready.”

The NDP hopes to capitalize on Canadians’ desire for change — public opinion polling suggests two-thirds of voters want change — and to remind voters that Trudeau isn’t their only choice if they want to give Conservative Leader Stephen Harper the boot.

The NDP, which had been leading polls this summer, is finding its support falling outside of Quebec, with the Liberals gaining momentum at their expense, especially in Ontario, two surveys released this week suggested.

In the NDP’s new ad, Mulcair is surrounded by smiling Canadians he has met on the campaign trail. He stresses his experience as a Quebec cabinet minister, and briefly mentions areas the NDP would focus on to make people’s lives better: giving kids a better start in life, helping young people get jobs and giving seniors better benefits.

“I have the experience for the job, and the plan to help every family get ahead,” Mulcair says staring straight into the camera. “In this election, Canadians are ready for change.”

An NDP official, insisting on anonymity, denied that the ad was about “introducing” Mulcair to Canadians. He said the ad is about highlighting Mulcair’s experience, his middle-class roots and values, and the change he would bring to Ottawa.

“Canadians want change, and Tom is ready to bring that change,” the NDP official said.

“The key message is that Tom is a dad, a grandfather, and a former cabinet minister who grew up in a family of 10 kids. He is a different kind of leader. He was raised on middle-class values and gets the things that are going on in your life — from juggling work and family, to making ends meet,” the official said.

The NDP’s French ad is very similar to the English ad but mentions social justice, protecting the environment and creating jobs. Mulcair, in the French ad, mentions that he at times needed to take some “difficult” decision while a Liberal Quebec cabinet minister.

Several high-profile Quebec Liberals disagree with Mulcair’s often repeated claim that he resigned his post as environment minister on a matter of principle involving a controversial condo development in a provincial park. Several of his former colleagues say Mulcair quit because he was demoted.

The NDP declined to give any details about the cost of the ad buy, how long it will run, or what markets it is targeting.

The NDP’s last television ad, a 30-second spot released in the spring, showed Mulcair in a coffee shop saying he was raised on middle-class values and would work to strengthen the middle class.

Google Canada recently released five questions that the Internet search engine said Canadians were googling most, chief among them: “Who is Tom Mulcair?”

Correction: An earlier version of this story stated the ad would begin airing on Tuesday, according to information provided by the NDP. In fact, the ad will air starting on Wednesday.

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