Stephane Dion finished his speech at a boisterous morning rally in Toronto with the words of Nellie McClung, saying "No nation rises higher than its women."
But several female Liberal MPs who pumped up the rhetoric in introducing Dion appeared to set that bar somewhat low.
MP Dianne Marleau, chairman of the Liberals' women's caucus, asked if Canadians want a country "ruled by a dictator." She said Conservative leader Stephen Harper has "contempt for women."
MP Carolyn Bennett, a physician by training, noted with women making up more than half of medical school classes, "medicine is now a meritocracy, unfortunately politics is not." She slammed Harper's leadership style: "the meanest boss" that Canadians "ever had in their life."
And Bennett, pointing to Dion's wife Janine Krieber, said she was so glad that Dion "prefers smart to smart alec. We're thrilled to have Mme. Krieber here today."
MP Yasmin Ratansi said Harper cut funds for the federal Status of Women's office "because he is mean-spirited" and asked "when you remove the word equality (from the office's mandate) what do you want? Inequality for women." Ratansi accused Harper of "stupid economic management."
"Boot him out," chanted the crowd.
Perhaps Dion should have quoted McClung's other famous saying (reprinted on pink shirts worn at the rally) "Never retract, never explain, never apologize. Get things done and let them howl."
- Tonda MacCharles