Federal Conservatives were outraged this week when Finance Minister Bill Morneau threw an N-word in their direction.
“Neanderthals” was the word in question and it came after Morneau was being accused of failing to walk the government’s talk on gender equality.
“I actually find your line of questioning to be offensive,” Morneau told the Conservatives’ deputy leader, Lisa Raitt. “We will drag along the Neanderthals who don’t agree with that and that will be our continuing approach.”
Within a day, Conservatives were demanding apologies and churning up outrage across social media. Morneau, their favourite target of 2017, was back in their sights as a “mansplainer” to women politicians.
We’ve come a long way from four years ago, when Justin Trudeau was using a much different N-word to describe Conservatives.
It was in February 2014, at the first big Liberal convention after Trudeau took over the leadership of his then third-place party.
“People in Ottawa talk about the ‘Conservative base’ as if it is some angry mob to be feared,” Trudeau told his troops. “They’re wrong. As all of you know, the 5.8 million Canadians who voted Conservative aren’t your enemies. They’re your neighbours.”
No one would accuse the Liberals and Conservatives of neighbourly relations these days, unless we’re talking about fences and feuding families.
But that four-year-old idea of Liberals and Conservatives as neighbours has been on my mind over the past few weeks, as we’ve seen Trudeau’s opinion ratings on a downward slide and Conservatives on an upswing.