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NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair appears in a French-language television ad released April 5, 2012. (NDP Video)
NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair appears in a French-language television ad released April 5, 2012. (NDP Video)

Politics

NDP unveils prime-time TV ads to introduce Mulcair Add to ...

Fans of Hockey Night in Canada and American Idol are going to get the chance to know Thomas Mulcair a little bit better.

English-language television ads created by the federal New Democrats to introduce their new leader to Canadians will begin airing on Tuesday in every region of the country. They will appear during some of the most watched – and most expensive – shows, including the traditional Saturday night hockey broadcast, the popular singing contest, and dramas like The Good Wife.

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The party will not divulge how much the ads will cost, but says they are part of the largest non-election advertising purchase in the party’s history, which began last week with a French-language commercial.

The campaign is intended to counter to negative ads that the party has been anticipating from the Conservatives since March 24, when Mr. Mulcair was elected to succeed Jack Layton as leader of the NDP and of the Official Opposition.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s party successfully eviscerated two consecutive Liberal opposition leaders with craftily composed commercials – one that depicted Stéphane Dion as a weak, and another that portrayed Michael Ignatieff as a power-hungry opportunist.

That prompted the New Democrats to decided that they, and not the Conservatives, will be the first to frame the image of Mr. Mulcair.

In the French ad, the NDP Leader alone speaks to the camera while rolling up his sleeves and promising an “economy greener and more prosperous for everyone.”

The English-language version is more complex. It starts with the announcement that “Canada’s got a new leader” and continues with actors playing ordinary Canadians saying Mr. Mulcair will fight for their family, help them make ends meet and find a good job, and take on Mr. Harper.

Mr. Layton’s widow, Olivia Chow, also a New Democrat MP, says, “Jack’s vision is in good hands,” and Mr. Mulcair then tells viewers he has fought for them as a Quebec provincial cabinet minister and “as a member of Jack’s team.”

Chantal Vallerand, the NDP national director, said in a statement that that the ads are intended to reach out to “all those Canadians who have been abandoned by the Conservative government. Our message is quite simply that, unlike Stephen Harper, Tom Mulcair will fight for you.”

The Conservatives did not take out advertising to discredit Nycole Turmel, who served as NDP leader after Mr. Layton died of cancer last August. But, in March, they produced commercials attacking interim Liberal Leader Bob Rae for the record of the NDP government he led as premier of Ontario in the early 1990s during an economic downturn.

The Liberals swore they would fight back and launched a fundraising campaign using the Tory advertising to motivate donors. But, unlike the Conservatives, they do not have a lot of money sitting in their bank account and they have yet to respond with ads of their own.

When Mr. Ignatieff was the Liberal leader, the party released an English-language commercial of him talking in the woods. It attempted to portray him as a “world leader” capable of helping Canada regain its place on the international stage. But, by then, the Conservative campaign had done its damage and Mr. Ignatieff could not recover.

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