HALIFAX -- Nova Scotia's Liberal leader says he's trying to contact a female candidate who says party staff pressured her to drop out because of revealing photos and told her to instead cite mental health concerns.

Iain Rankin said today his team "assisted" Robyn Ingraham with her resignation statement last Saturday and said he's trying to contact her to learn her version of events.

Ingraham said on social media Wednesday the real reason she was dropped in the riding of Dartmouth South was because of several online photos -- images she said she had disclosed to the party during the vetting process.

Rankin told CTV during a news conference today in Iona, N.S., he's "sad to lose a candidate in this race."

He also said there were elements in Ingraham's public Instagram post that made him "uncomfortable."

Rankin says he wants candidates to have diverse life experiences and wants an open, inclusive party.

"We've made huge strides forward, especially with this campaign and our candidates," he said. "We're going to continue to recruit people that have different experiences."

Ingraham announced Saturday she would not be running, citing "the time commitment and intensity of a campaign and the impact it will have on my mental health."

But in her social media post Wednesday, Ingraham said she didn't want to leave that impression with the public. "After sitting with the fact that I let myself and those around me down by hiding behind my mental illness to save something bigger than I -- I was furious," she wrote.

Ingraham, a barber and small business owner, also published an email she said she sent to Rankin, saying the party had made a mistake by forcing her out. "The misogynistic behaviour of those above you is not tolerable. It's not my job to make old white men comfortable," she wrote.

"Once again, I have every right to use 'my' body for whatever I want. That includes taking photos and selling them online if I see fit. The faster this government acknowledges and protects us humans, the sooner they will have the support from the province as a whole."

The Progressive Conservatives have said Rankin must "come clean" on the allegations, apologize to Ingraham and disclose which senior members of the party dealt with her.

Rankin said Friday he will not name names, though he noted one of those involved in the discussions was a "friend" of Ingraham who had helped recruit her.

NDP Leader Gary Burrill, who made a child care announcement in Halifax Friday, has responded to Ingraham's allegations by calling on parties to take a stand against misogynistic attacks on female candidates.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 23, 2021.