Trudeau faces backlash over ladies-only fundraiser

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.

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.”

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.