Stephen McNeil says her learned many valuable lessons growing up in a big family. ((CBC))

Annapolis MLA Stephen McNeil has officially joined the race to lead Nova Scotia's third-party Liberals, bringing the list of candidates to four.

McNeil launched his campaign Tuesday in Dartmouth,ascaucus colleagues Leo Glavine and Harold (Junior) Theriault, and MP Robert Thibault stood nearby.

The 12th of 17 children, McNeil said the lessons he learned growing up continue to serve him well.

"Teamwork, co-operation, compromise and, when necessary, standing up to have your voice heard," he told his supporters.

McNeil said the Liberals need to start speaking toconcerns that matter to Nova Scotians, like post-secondary education, the environment and issues facing seniors.

Nova Scotia children should have many options, he added.

"In order to do that, we need a leader that is going to be able to unite the socially progressive side of this province and the fiscal responsible side," he said, "and I believe I'm that leader."

McNeilwas first electedMLA ofAnnapolis in 2003. He was re-electedin2006 when the Liberals dropped from 10 to nine seats, a feat that he said shows his strength and appeal.

Besides being the party whip,McNeilison the community services and veterans affairs committees. He's also the party's critic for agriculture, tourism and sport.

Halifax-Clayton Park MLA Diana Whalenbecame the first Liberal caucus member when she entered the leadership campaign earlier this month.

Colchester County Mayor Mike Smith and Halifax lawyer Kenzie MacKinnon are also candidates.

Liberal party members will pick a leader in Dartmouth this April, the third such conventionin five years.