The Chronicle Herald (Metro)

Rankin wants to hear first-hand from Ingraham

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

Iain Rankin distanced himself Thursday from allegation­s that the Liberal party forced its Dartmouth South candidate to drop out of the race.

Speaking at a Liberal before- and after-school expansion announceme­nt in Sydney, Rankin told reporters that as party leader he had never met or spoken with Robyn Ingraham but that he understood from reading her initial social media post that she had willingly withdrawn her candidacy.

In a stinging indictment of the Liberal party delivered in a subsequent social media post Wednesday evening, Ingraham said she felt intimidate­d, patronized, lied to and angry after her brief affiliatio­n with the party.

Ingraham said that she had been very open during the candidate vetting process about her story and her time in front of photograph­ers lenses “taking boudoir photos alone and with my friends.”

She said she expressed herself through those photos on multiple online platforms.

After she was acclaimed as the Liberal candidate for Dartmouth South, the party posted Ingraham’s photo and she shared it on her platforms to spread the word that she was excited.

“Roughly six hours later I received a phone call from my contact explaining that my

photos have already surfaced and asked me if I've ever had sex for money,” Ingraham said. “No. I haven't, but they shouldn't have to ask and I don't think they have the right to.”

Ingraham said she talked with the communicat­ions director and thought everything was fine, but the next morning as she was preparing to meet Rankin at Alderney market, she got a call from her Liberal contact explaining that the photos of her had made the higher ups worried and uncomforta­ble.

Ingraham said she was texted two renditions of statements to provide about her stepping down.

Ingraham said she then regrettabl­y posted a statement of lies attributin­g her withdrawal to mental illness

“I blamed my mental illness, something that I was going to use as an advantage for your government, something I'm not ashamed of, something I speak about daily to break the stigma surroundin­g (it),” Ingraham said in her subsequent post.

Ingraham, co-owner of the Devoted Barbers in Dartmouth, said on her Facebook post that all she wants is for “the real story to be out there,” and for those who are aware that mental illness has hindered her in the past to know that it is not the reason for her withdrawal.

Rankin said Thursday he's talked to the party and has continued to look at ways to recruit candidates from all background­s.

“It's really important for me that we have more diversity coming into the legislatur­e,” Rankin said. “That was a priority, my team knows that.”

Rankin said it's unfortunat­e that Ingraham feels as she does.

“Nobody should feel that way,” he said. “All I can say is that the Liberal party embraces people from all background­s. I think you see that, with almost 40 per cent women on our slate of candidates. I am going to continue to advocate for equity and diversity, and I will continue to try to find candidates of different background­s and life experience­s."

Asked if he'd welcome Ingraham back to party, Rankin said he'd like to know more of her story.

“I'd like to talk to her firsthand. Potentiall­y, I'd like to see what she has to say, and what kind of interactio­ns she's had with my team. Certainly, if you have different life experience­s, that shouldn't hold you back from putting your name forward."

Nicole Mosher, the Progressiv­e Conservati­ve candidate for Fairview-clayton Park and president of the PC women's caucus, said the new informatio­n from Ingraham is disturbing.

“A young woman was bullied by the powerful men of the Liberal party into resigning as a Liberal candidate,” Mosher said. “Not only was Ms. Ingraham forced out as a candidate, she was also told to lie to the public about the true reason for her departure.

“Thousands of Nova Scotians suffer in silence from mental health challenges. The fact that Iain Rankin and his advisers thought it was convenient to blame Ms. Ingraham's departure on her past mental health challenges is not only a flagrant lie, it also trivialize­s the very real pain that Nova

Scotians with mental illnesses face every single day.”

Mosher said the misogynist­ic tendencies of the Rankin Liberals have been exposed again.

“The premier's office is not a place where powerful men can dictate the political success of women, rather it should be a place that encourages women candidates and supports them so that they can succeed,” Mosher said. “Nova Scotia deserves better than the lies, sexist double standards and casual cruelty to those suffering with mental illness. Iain Rankin owes Robyn Ingraham, and all Nova Scotians, an apology.”

Gary Burrill, leader of the New Democratic Party, said, “considerin­g the climate of misogynist­ic attacks on women candidates, it is incumbent on political parties to stand up for anyone facing attacks to ensure more people from a diversity of background­s are able to successful­ly run for office”

Burrill said the NDP is committed to ensuring women and gender-diverse candidates are a central part of politics in Nova Scotia in the province.

 ?? IAN NATHANSON • SALTWIRE NETWORK ?? Liberal leader Iain Rankin talks about expansion of the before and after-school programs across the province in Sydney on Thursday.
IAN NATHANSON • SALTWIRE NETWORK Liberal leader Iain Rankin talks about expansion of the before and after-school programs across the province in Sydney on Thursday.

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