Nova Scotia MP Robert Chisholm has joined the federal NDP leadership race, becoming the eighth candidate for the job.

The 54-year-old MP for Dartmouth–Cole Harbour confirmed on Facebook on Sunday that he is now part of a growing group of candidates to replace the late Jack Layton.

He later appeared at a Darmouth restaurant with supporters, including Premier Darrell Dexter and a group of provincial cabinet ministers.

Chisholm touted his experience as former leader of the NDP in Nova Scotia in the late 1990s. He led the provincial party to a breakthrough in Nova Scotia's 1998 election, when the party won 19 seats in the legislature and achieved Official Opposition status.

The unilingual candidate says he has started taking French courses and expects to learn the language. He was only able to speak a few words of French in response to reporters' questions.

In launching his campaign, he said in an online statement that New Democrats are at a "a pivotal point in their history."

"Our party has given renewed hope to so many Canadians as the last election has shown and we cannot let them down," Chisholm said at his news conference.

"I will continue this work by engaging Canadians from coast to coast to coast. I will strengthen and expand the base of our party in every single part of the country. Together, we'll re-energize our democracy and make it more appealing and accessible to every Canadian."

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Veteran party strategist Brian Topp was the first to enter the race to lead the federal NDP. Before Chisholm signed up, Toronto MP Peggy Nash was the latest to join, on Friday.

The other candidates are Quebec MP and Deputy Leader Thomas Mulcair, Ottawa MP Paul Dewar, Quebec MP Roméo Saganash, British Columbia MP Nathan Cullen and Nova Scotia pharmacist Martin Singh.

Mulcair and Topp are considered the front-runners in the race.

Interim NDP Leader Nycole Turmel took over from Layton when he stepped down due to health reasons in July.

With files from The Canadian Press