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Openly gay N.S. candidate finds hate letter in mail

HALIFAX – An openly gay candidate in the Nova Scotia provincial election says she received hate mail because of her sexual orientation.

Joanne Bernard says she expected some backlash, but receiving a blatantly homophobic and hateful letter in the mail still wasn’t easy.

“Upon opening, [I] realized quite quickly that it was extraordinarily offensive to me and to my partner,” she said.

Bernard is the Liberal candidate for the district of Dartmouth-North. She has been married to her wife for almost five years. Before entering politics, she had a long career in the charity and social services sector, where she worked with abused and disenfranchised women.

All that information, from her work experience, personal hobbies and marital status ended up in her biography on Bernard’s Liberal candidate web page, which is where she says the anonymous letter-writer discovered she is openly gay.

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“They overlooked everything I’ve done politically and for community development in Dartmouth-North, and focused on the one sentence that every other candidate in every other party would have put on their brochures as well,” she said.

Among other things, the letter derides Bernard as “gross”.

“I just think it’s a shame that society today is still putting labels on people,” said Annette Hill, Bernard’s wife. “If they are just going to focus on ‘Joanne is married to Annette’, they’re missing out on all the great accomplishments she’s made.”

Hill said the letter was hard to read, but the couple is just letting it roll off their backs.

While it likely isn’t a crime and Bernard does not plan to follow up with lawyers or police, she said she will keep the letter.

“I’m a female mother candidate, who’s been on income assistance,” she said. “I want to focus on the other positive aspects of my life, but I’m certainly not going to hide who I am.”