03/23/2012 05:17 EDT | Updated 05/23/2012 05:12 EDT

NDP leadership candidate Niki Ashton pitches 'new politics'

Brian Topp's showcase kicked off with a high-profile endorsement from Shirley Douglas, daughter of NDP icon Tommy Douglas, who told the audience that the NDP will win the next election with Topp as its leader.

"We can win, with Brian Topp as our leader, we will win," the actress, and mother of actor Keifer Sutherland, said.

During his speech, Topp said members stand on the shoulders of giants and Douglas' father, the first NDP leader, is among those giants. Another former leader, Ed Broadbent, who helped launch Topp's campaign and has been an ardent supporter, looked on like a proud father as Topp delivered his speech.

After a video presentation, Topp outlined his platform and asked New Democrats to give him their trust.

Topp said the core question for New Democrats to ask themselves is what kind of Canada they want. He said his vision for the country is one with fair taxes, one that acts on climate change and values seniors and young people, the arts and medicare.

"If you put your trust in me, that's the kind of government I will lead," said Topp.

One of Topp's key proposals is to raise income taxes on Canadians who earn more than $250,000.

"We must fight, and fight hard for a progressive tax system," said Topp, one of two candidates in the race who is not a member of Parliament. If he wins, he will ask a Quebec MP to step aside so he can run in a riding in his home province.

Topp worked closely with former leader Jack Layton on several national NDP campaigns and he vowed to carry on Layton's work and to maintain the NDP's newly gained support in Quebec in the last election.

He also talked about the party's social democratic roots and aligned himself with them. "I'm a proud New Democrat and an unapologetic social democrat," he said.

Topp ended his speech by promising to "get the job done."