An operative with the New Democratic Party working for Ramona Jennex has been fired after sending a letter calling the Liberal candidate in the electoral district of Kings South an "outspoken homophobe."
Nathaniel Cole, who was brought in from Saskatchewan to assist in Jennex's campaign, sent a letter to Acadia Pride to try to arrange a meeting between Jennex and members of the organization. Acadia Pride — a student organization at Acadia University in Wolfville — bills itself as a group that provides an outlet for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer individuals.
"Ramona would be interested in meeting with members and allies of the Acadia Pride community to discuss issues on-campus and the broader community and further her work to the queer-trans community in the Annapolis Valley," said the letter, dated Sept. 19.
"As you may know, she is currently being challenged for her seat in this election by the outspoken homophobe Keith Irving."
Jennex, who was the Minister of Education and Early Childhood Development when the legislature was dissolved, is running against Liberal candidate Keith Irving and Progressive Conservative candidate Shane Buchan.
Officials with Nova Scotia's Liberal Party told CBC News they found out about the letter when parts of it were copied and pasted into an email sent out to members of Acadia Pride to let them know about Jennex's visit to the Acadia University campus. A student who received the email passed it on to the Liberals.
Cole could not be reached for comment.
'I was horrified'
Jennex, meanwhile, said she only learned about the email when she was contacted by the media. She said she didn't know what would prompt Cole to make such statements about Irving.
"He is gone from this campaign. He was very upset and left so I haven't had a chance to speak with him. I don't know what kind of information or what he's heard or why he would formulate that kind of a comment," she said Tuesday afternoon.
"I was horrified that anyone would use that kind of language. You do not call people names and to use that kind of language is inexcusable."
Irving demanded an apology and said the accusation is unfounded and untrue. He spoke to reporters at a news conference with Scott Brison, the Liberal MP for Kings-Hants. Brison is openly gay.
"There is nothing in my background that would point to anyone to make any accusation like this," Irving said.
"Ms. Jennex has called just moments ago and apologized and I accepted that apology but I do believe that that apology needs to extend to the people of Kings South and particularly to Acadia University, being drawn in to political mudslinging. It's just really unfair and unfortunate."
Liberal Leader Stephen McNeil called the incident "extremely disappointing" and said Irving is a "true gentleman."
"I've had a great deal of respect for him. My family has known him for quite some time. He deserves better, quite frankly, than to be misrepresented by a campaign worker," said McNeil.