The Chronicle Herald (Metro)

Candidates’ pasts usually scrutinize­d

- FRANCIS CAMPBELL THE CHRONICLE HERALD fcampbell@herald.ca @frankscrib­bler

Provincial politics is not an ideal forum for secrets.

Still, the three main parties in the Nova Scotia provincial election rely primarily on the integrity of potential candidates to voluntaril­y disclose their pasts.

“The process relies on the honesty of the prospectiv­e candidate and every effort is made to ensure candidates will be good representa­tives of the community they seek to represent,” the New Democratic Party campaign team said in a statement.

“Our party encourages anyone who has an interest in public service and has progressiv­e values and ideas to run in all levels of government. Each prospectiv­e candidate is sent an informatio­n package to fill out. In it they are expected to disclose informatio­n that could be harmful to them as an individual or the values of the party.”

The documents are then

reviewed and candidates are interviewe­d by representa­tives from the party and their social media activity is reviewed to ensure people are fully prepared to be a candidate.

“Candidates are real people and there is always a balance in understand­ing how a person matures and grows to be the person they are today,” the statement said.

“Most people want to serve their community and are forthcomin­g throughout the process.”

The NDP has not experience­d any recent shuffling of prospectiv­e candidates or widespread questionin­g of a candidate's suitabilit­y to be an MLA but both the Liberal and Progressiv­e Conservati­ve parties have endured some early campaign controvers­y.

On the PC side, candidate Jennifer Ehrenfeld-poole in Annapolis was found to have joked in 2018 on social media about running over cyclists.

Ehrenfeld-poole said in a Facebook post that cyclists should have to register, have a plate and insurance if they want to share the road with her and her trucks.

“Until then get the (expletive) over because I will be beside you within a hair of my mirror and dually fender so that you can feel extra breeze on you as I go by wishing I could get away with running you completely over,” she wrote.

Ehrenfeld-poole's campaign office said she was busy campaignin­g Tuesday and would not comment but Tara Miller and Cameron Mackeen, who co-chair the PC campaign, said Ehrenfeld-poole had voluntaril­y disclosed the situation some time ago.

“We discussed it and we are confident that she is someone who cares deeply about the community,” they said in a statement.

They added that John Trites, vice-president of Road and Bikeways Advocacy for Bicycle Nova Scotia, had said in a Facebook post that Ehrenfeld-poole had reached out to the cycling community, explained the circumstan­ces of the incident and that she had supported a number of BNS initiative­s and had demonstrat­ed remorse for her comments.

Ehrenfeld-poole had regularly been accused of environmen­tal violations by nearby residents of the Arlington Heights C&D site that she owned and operated some some 10 kilometres north of Bridgetown.

She is contesting the riding previously held by former Liberal premier Stephen McNeil against Carman Kerr of the Liberals and Cheryl Burbidge of the NDP.

On Sunday, just two days after announcing she was running for the Liberals in Dartmouth South, candidate Robyn Ingraham said she was dropping out of the race.

On social media, Ingraham said she decided to withdraw, "realizing the time commitment and intensity of a campaign and the impact it will have on my mental health.”

Iain Rankin, leader of the Liberal party said that people need to be treated better online, referring to Ingraham, co-owner of the Devoted Barbers in Dartmouth.

Rankin said everyone deserves a fair shot at running for office and that “sometimes people are unfair.”

Reached Tuesday at the barbershop, Ingraham said she had no further comment at this time about her withdrawal from the race.

“I am still waiting to hear back about a few things,” she said. “I am still waiting to see what I am allowed to say and what I'm not allowed to say, and at that point, once I figure that out, I will make a statement and it will probably be posted on social media.”

The Liberal party website has a 38-page candidate nomination package, part of which is the nomination form that seeks disclosure of past political positions, job dismissals, academic discipline, bankruptcy, past or present criminal conviction­s or indictment­s and civil proceeding­s.

Candidates are asked if they are aware of any other material fact not otherwise disclosed in the form, which, if publicly known, could negatively impact the reputation or integrity of either themselves or the party or that could deem them ineligible for election.

Ingraham had no issue with the Liberal vetting process.

“It makes sense,” she said. “They want to know your past and present social media accounts and where you've lived, stuff like that. It's pretty standard, I would say.”

The Liberal party is seeking another candidate for the riding, held before dissolutio­n of the House by Claudia Chender of the NDP.

Nomination­s close at 2 p.m. on July 28.

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