Omar Alghabra wants everyone to know who he is; he is “Political Man.”
The Liberal candidate in Mississauga-Erindale – he held the riding for one term after the 2006 election but lost in 2008 to Tory Bob Dechert – is producing an upbeat, funny and sometimes sarcastic ad introducing himself to his potential constituents.
“ Who is Omar Alghabra?,” a deep-voiced male narrator asks over a smiling caricature of the former MP. “Omar is an honest man who lives a simple life. He was raised to work hard.”
The ad goes on to note Mr. Alghabra has pumped gas and was also a “doughnut-maker extraordinaire.” But after completing an engineering degree and an MBA in “smart-pantsery” and working in senior private-sector roles, he discovered he got his greatest fulfillment from community service.
He tried his hand at “youth group volunteering, penning social-issue columns in the paper and teaching blind puppies how to play cricket on weekends.” Then, as Mr. Alghabra’s animated likeness steps into a phone booth as though he were Clark Kent, the narrator intones: “One day all of this social activitiy developed into something more – Omar became Political Man.”
The combination of biographical information and self-deprecating humour stands in contrast to the aggressive attack ads currently in rotation on the federal stage.
“I think people are tired of political ads that dehumanize politicians,” the 41-year-old candidate told The Globe. “So I have been thinking of finding ways to reach Canadians with a bit of humour and positive messages. I think our jobs as politicians should entail finding creative ways to reach Canadians where they are.”
Through social media – and old fashioned door-to-door canvassing – Mr. Alghabra doesn’t seem to have stopped campaigning since losing his seat by 397 votes in 2008.
“Many Canadians are online but they get turned off by over-the-top partisan ads,” he said, going on to criticize the recent Tory suite of anti-Ignatieff attack ads as being reliant on “vindictive, take-no-prisoners messages.”
He added: “I think Canadians are hungry for a positive approach that speaks to the best of us.”