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The Globe and Mail

And now for something completely different in political ads: ‘blind puppies’ and ‘smart pantsery’

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."

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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."

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About the Author
Ontario politics reporter

Jane Taber is a reporter at Queen’s Park. After spending three years reporting from the Atlantic, she has returned to Ontario and back to writing about her passion, politics. She spent 25 years covering Parliament Hill for the Ottawa Citizen, the National Post and the Globe and Mail. More

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