Thomas Mulcair became the first party leader to stop in Waterloo Region during the 2015 federal election campaign on Tuesday, when he helped open the office of Kitchener Centre candidate Susan Cadell.

“Do you want to help us replace the politics of fear and division with the politics of hope and optimism?” he asked the partisan crowd before launching into a speech about his party’s platform and key NDP issues like poverty among seniors and poor conditions on First Nations reserves.

Recent polls have suggested the possibility of an NDP minority government.

Projections released Monday night by the Laurier Institute for the Study of Public Opinion and Policy show the NDP leading in 134 ridings, compared to 116 for the Conservatives and 86 for the Liberals.

LISPOP reached that conclusion by aggregating various national polls conducted between Aug. 10 and Aug. 19.

While some voices from the left wing of Canadian politics have called on the NDP and Liberals to merge in order to present a unified front against the Conservatives, NDP supporters at Mulcair’s appearance had little appetite for that idea.

“The most important thing for NDP supporters to do is to go out and make sure that we win this election, rather than worry about splitting the vote,” said Justin Williams.

Williams said he hoped an NDP government would bring about some sort of electoral reform – a hope shared by Samantha Estoesta.

“We can talk about how the Liberals and the NDP are splitting the vote, or we can talk about the system itself,” she said.

Brian Tanguay, a Wilfrid Laurier University political scientist who was also at Mulcair’s appearance in Kitchener, said he expected vote-splitting to be less of an issue than voter fatigue.

“I think there’s a whiff of end-of-regime about Harper,” he said.

“The struggle will be over who is the vehicle for change, and I think the NDP is the obvious one.”

Asked about the issue of assisted death, Mulcair claimed the government had created a “biased” panel to study the issue and said that if elected, he would put together a panel of his own.

“The medical community needs to have it dealt with honestly and openly. They need to have clear rules,” he said.

“These are complex issues that require understanding, compassion and leadership – unfortunately, Mr. Harper has shown none of these.”

Mulcair continues his tour of southwestern Ontario on Wednesday, with stops in London and Stratford.