Prime Minister Justin Trudeau offered a sunny message of progress and equality to Liberal constituents at the Liberal party’s Winnipeg convention on Saturday, but he couldn’t resist aiming a couple of jabs at his Conservative rivals.

The Conservative Party held its own convention in Vancouver to discuss a series of possible changes to the party’s policies including a proposal to eliminate language from its definition of marriage as being between one man and one woman.

“Our Conservative friends are also meeting this weekend. They’re in Vancouver where, among other things, they’re debating the merits of marriage equality – in 2016. More than a decade after we made same-sex marriage legal in Canada,” Trudeau said, drawing cheers from the crowd.

“Ten years from now, they might finally be willing to admit that climate change is real. Or realize that tax cuts for rich people don’t help the middle class. Or that government shouldn’t be allowed to legislate what women can wear on their heads.”

But Trudeau tempered his criticisms with a message of gratitude to former Prime Minster Stephen Harper.

“You see, there are only a handful of people alive who know what it’s like to do this job I have now. I am now one of those people. And I can tell you – even if you weren’t a fan of his politics, there can be no doubting Stephen Harper’s commitment to our country,” Trudeau said.

Trudeau then asked the crowd to join him in thanking Harper “for his many years of public service.” People in the packed auditorium responded with a standing ovation.

The prime minister also offered thanks to Laureen Harper and the former prime minister’s children, Ben and Rachel, for “standing with” Harper “through thick and thin.”

Former interim Liberal leader Bob Rae was caught on video pretending to gag during the Harper tribute. Rae stuck two fingers in his mouth and mockingly "gagged," while others in the crowd applauded.

In a tweet late Saturday night, Rae apologized for the “thoughtless gesture” during the tribute, calling it a “joke in poor taste that I regret very much.”

Rae was also honoured at the convention in a separate tribute.

With files from The Canadian Press