03/24/2012 09:30 EDT | Updated 05/24/2012 05:12 EDT

Thomas Mulcair's deep Quebec roots help him claim NDP's top job

TORONTO - A look at the life and political career of NDP leadership candidate Thomas Mulcair.

Born: Oct. 24, 1954, in Ottawa. Age 57.

Educated: Lawyer with degrees in civil and common law from McGill University.

Private career: Director of legal affairs for English-rights group Alliance Quebec; professor at University du Quebec a Trois Rivieres; president of the order of Quebec professionals.

Provincial political career: Liberal member of Quebec legislature, 1994-2007; environment minister 2003-2006. Quit after dispute with Quebec Premier Jean Charest over development in a provincial park.

Federal political career: Won 2007 byelection for NDP in Montreal riding of Outremont, a longtime Liberal fortress. Named deputy leader. Re-elected 2008 and 2011.

Personal life: Married, two children.

For the record: "A lot of the words that we use and a lot of the choices we make policy-wise show that we're still rooted in the past ... We're not going to defeat Stephen Harper with a slogan." — Arguing for a more centrist message that reaches beyond the NDP's traditional target audience.