Did Tory MP Shelly Glover call Liberal MP Anita Neville old? Not exactly, but it depends on whom you believe.
And it's the kind of schoolyard silliness that's likely to dominate the election, to the exclusion of real debates about policy.
The topic jammed reporters' inboxes, consumed Twitter, and figured prominently on radio and TV news Tuesday. It's not the kind of headline-stealer Conservative Leader Stephen Harper wanted to walk into during his first campaign stop in Winnipeg.
Jared Wesley, a University of Manitoba political scientist, says the issue fits the election's narrative in some ways -- every party is trying to woo seniors. But it also fits the 24-hour news cycle and the social-media culture that sets the election agenda and gobbles up stories about gaffes and missteps.
"This wouldn't have been a story 15 years ago," Wesley said. "It's just another example of how this campaign isn't about policy, it's about personality. We can be dismayed all we want, but it's a fact."
Glover's running for re-election in Saint Boniface, Neville in Winnipeg South Centre.
Here's what was said so you can decide for yourself:
"I think Anita Neville is in trouble. I've only been in Parliament for 21/2 years and I'll tell you there are a lot of shenanigans going on in Parliament. We need some fresh blood. We need some new people who come with some new ideas and who are willing to really stand up for their constituents, and I'm afraid Ms. Neville has passed her expiry date."
-- Shelly Glover, to Global News on Monday night
"It's typical of the Conservative party when they don't have anything real or substantive to say to resort to name-calling and personal attacks. It's typical of the party and of Shelly."
-- Anita Neville, in a statement to Global Monday night
"Ageism seems to be the final frontier of acceptable discrimination. Even when all the parties are actively wooing older voters, a sitting MP thinks this is appropriate. It wasn't that long ago that women could not vote let alone run for office. So it's doubly disappointing that Ms. Glover chose to attack in this way another woman who's not even in her riding. How long will it take for this to stop?"
-- Susan Eng, vice-president of advocacy for the Canadian Association for Retired Persons, in a statement issued Tuesday morning
"My remarks were clear: I was referring to Ms. Neville's performance as an MP, and only that. In my opinion, Ms. Neville has ceased to be an effective representative of her constituents. I believe someone new, of any age, with new ideas would be a more effective representative for the people of Winnipeg South Centre."
-- Glover, in a statement issued early Tuesday morning
"Sorry Ms. Glover, but a lie doesn't cover up a slur. Your new line is just not credible, given that so many of your Conservative colleagues running in this election have longer tenures in public office than Anita Neville's 10 years -- including Stephen Harper, who has been in office for 13 years."
-- Liberal party statement, issued Tuesday, mid-morning
"I was in Bar Italia this morning and a gentleman came up to me and said 'You don't look like you're past your expiry date.' "
-- Neville, to the Free Press Tuesday afternoon
-- Mary Agnes Welch