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Veterans ombudsman Pat Stogran holds a news conference at the National Press Theatre in Ottawa on Tuesday, Aug 17, 2010.

Sean Kilpatrick/THE CANADIAN PRESS

Pat Stogran, a retired army colonel who was Canada's first veterans ombudsman, is joining the race to succeed Tom Mulcair as leader of the federal New Democrats.

Mr. Stogran launched his campaign Thursday at a hotel in downtown Ottawa where he said Canadians can count on him to be straight-talking and honest with them.

In a speech to announce his leadership bid, Mr. Stogran was highly critical of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his Liberal government, accusing Mr. Trudeau of hiding behind selfies while abandoning election promises.

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"I am worried at the distinct lack of leadership that is manifest in the senior echelons of government," he told reporters to explain why he wants to lead the NDP. "I could no longer stand idly by."

The feisty former officer studied engineering at the Royal Military College in Kingston and holds a masters degree in strategic studies from the United States Army War College. He served with the military in both Bosnia and Afghanistan.

But he is best known for being a thorn in the side of the former Conservative government as he fought for better treatment of Canada's veterans.

He joins four New Democrat MPs – Charlie Angus, Niki Ashton, Guy Caron and Peter Julian – and Montreal consultant Ibrahim Bruno El-Khoury in the leadership race. The winner will be chosen in October.

Video: NDP leadership candidates take part in first debate (The Canadian Press)
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