Former NDP leadership candidate Romeo Saganash is now backing fellow Quebec MP Thomas Mulcair in his bid to lead the party.

Saganash said in a statement released Wednesday that he made the decision after careful consideration. He withdrew from the contest on Feb. 10 and hadn't indicated until now whether he would publicly support one of the seven remaining candidates.

The former Cree leader said that during his 25 years of being involved in politics he has gained a strong understanding of what direction the country needs to go to build a better future for the generations to come.

"Of all my great colleagues who have offered to be our next leader, I believe that Tom is best able to lead all Canadians into that better future together. Tom has shown throughout this race that he has the ability to bring progressive Canadians of all stripes together, united under the NDP banner," Saganash said in his statement. "We can create the better country that we all seek and I have great confidence that Tom will lead us to victory in 2015."

The latest endorsement for Mulcair brings to 43 the number of NDP MPs supporting him, the most of any candidate. He also nabbed the backing of the other former leadership candidate who pulled out of the race earlier, Nova Scotia MP Robert Chisholm.

There are less than three weeks left in the lengthy race to replace Jack Layton, who died of cancer in August. The new leader will be chosen by NDP members on March 24 at a convention in Toronto.

Niki Ashton, Nathan Cullen, Paul Dewar, Peggy Nash, Martin Singh and Brian Topp are competing against Mulcair for the job of Official Opposition leader.

Advance voting is already underway and members can now vote online or by mail-in ballot.