OTTAWA - A Liberal fundraiser aimed at capitalizing on leader Justin Trudeau's popularity among women is being denounced as sexist and patronizing by his political foes — and even by some Liberals.
The backlash started instantly late Wednesday when Trudeau tweeted that he was looking forward to tonight's "cocktails and candid conversation" at the $250-a-head event in Toronto.
The accompanying electronic invitation to "Justin Unplugged" features stylized close-ups of the leader with a come-hither stare and the message: "Ladies, you're invited to (really) get to know the future prime minister."
Scribbled in grade-school cursive font around the margins are a series of questions: "What's your favourite virtue?" "Who are your real life heroes?" "What is the biggest issue facing women?"
The resulting Twitter-storm was fierce and continues unabated today, generating its own hashtag: "askjustin."
"Who organized this? Barbie? And sponsored by Teen Beat, I'm guessing," tweeted Lisa Kirbie, a Liberal commentator.
"In asking someone to attend a political fundraiser show some respect," tweeted Transport Minister Lisa Raitt. "$250 is a serious investment. Don't talk down to me."
To the question on her favourite virtue, junior cabinet minister Michelle Rempel added two hashtags: "donttalktomelikeasecondclasscitizen" and "don'tpatronizeme."
New Democrat MP Megan Leslie also weighed in: "What's the biggest issue facing women? This kind of crap."
Hundreds of others joined the pile-on, pouring on the sarcasm and mockery.
"Hey ladies, come tell Justin what colour you think the Keystone pipeline should be," tweeted one.
Another said ladies who attend the event can look forward Trudeau pouring them martinis, rubbing their feet and explaining "how politics work, using analogies from The Notebook."
The organizer of the fundraiser, Amanda Alvaro, fought back, tweeting that the event was "organized BY women, FOR women with a (clearly) intriguing evite designed to inspire dialogue. Proud to host tonight."
She later added: "Get a grip, people. It's an evite, not a platform."
Trudeau himself took to answering questions posed by people under the "askjustin" hashtag but so far has not commented on the flap over the online invitation.