The Nova Scotia Liberals announced a new candidate for Dartmouth South on the final day before the nomination deadline, July 29. The candidate is Lesley MacKay, whose bio says she graduated from the University of King’s College with a BA and then took public relations at NSCC. She currently works at the Liberal Caucus Office and is passionate about climate change and gender equality.
In the press release announcing MacKay, the Liberals boasted they “have 23 women candidates who have stepped forward to represent the Liberal Party – double the amount of female candidates we had in 2017.”
But that post, along with Ingraham’s candidate page on the NS Liberal Party website, were taken down after she was allegedly pushed out of the party.
“After being ‘acclaimed’ as a candidate...I was asked to call the communications director,” says an Instagram post from Ingraham that was put up yesterday evening (see below). “I was led on to think that everything was fine.”
Originally, Ingraham was told to blame her mental health as the reason she dropped out of the race. She did this, suggesting she would like to run again for the Liberals when her mental health allowed: On Saturday, the day after announcing her candidacy, she told CBC that “in the future when I can better manage my anxiety, you may see my face with a red border once again.”
But since then, rumours have swirled that Ingraham was actually booted from the Liberal fold after old boudoir photos resurfaced, even though she disclosed them to the party before running. She finally confirmed those rumours in Wednesday’s post.
“During the application process I was very open about my story, and my time in front of photographers lenses,” the post reads. “I explained that I love to show off the artwork on my skin, and I have no problem taking boudoir photos alone and with my friends.”
Ingraham goes on to explain that the boudoir photos and an OnlyFans account she started were to help her make ends meet during the first year of opening her own business, The Gentle Barber in Dartmouth, one of the few female-owned barber shops in the province.
“Having a platform to post photos and videos on that charges a subscription fee, among other features, seemed like a fast way to pay my bills and put food on my table,” she says. “Although, I shouldn’t have to explain myself. This platform is LEGAL.”
In the post, Ingraham flatly disavows the earlier story about why her candidacy ended: “All I want is for the real story to be out there, and for those to know that though my mental illness’ have hindered me in the past—they are not responsible for this.”
This isn’t the first time the Liberals have used women’s sexuality to try to knock them down a peg. Back in 2013, Lenore Zann was running for the provincial NDP when the Liberal government circulated a topless photo of her from her acting career.
“A lot of women see what is happening and they say, 'I don't want to enter politics.’ They're being scared off,” Zann told CBC. (After serving as a provincial MLA for the NDP, Zann actually joined the federal Liberals, and is currently the MP for Cumberland-Colchester.)
In 2017, the provincial Liberals proved themselves sexual assault apologists, when they let Kyley Harris continue working for them after learning of domestic violence accusations against him by former Liberal communications director Michelle Coffin.
A few weeks ago, in June, Hants East MLA Margaret Miller resigned from the party, days after an email was leaked where she threatened to quit because a new hire inside the premier’s office was "misogynistic" and "atrocious."
Is there a sexist double standard at work here? Before the current election campaign started, premier Iain Rankin used a COVID briefing in early July to make a confession about his past, which includes two DUI charges, one each in 2003 and 2005. “I am very, very sorry for my actions half a lifetime ago,” he said of the charges, apparently pre-empting a journalist who was working on a story about the drunk driving.
The Liberal party responded to The Coast's request for comment, quoting leader Iain Rankin as saying “I hope to have a conversation with Robyn to learn more about her story. I have tried three times to connect with her, and left another voicemail this morning. Respectfully, I think the right thing to do is to wait for that conversation to take place before addressing the issue further."
While the Liberal Party is clearly comfortable going into the election with Rankin, the male candidate for Timberlea-Prospect, in the Dartmouth South riding Ingraham has not been given the same leeway when it comes to making choices for her own body.
“I explained to multiple people over the course of my application that if/when my photos were to come out, there would be a teachable moment for the community and province,” she says in the post. “This screams gender inequality from all angles. Why should I be ashamed of my body and what I decide to do with it?”