Schoolyard tripe! Poisonous! Demeaning! Anti-American!

The critics are raving.

Rex Murphy. They are not good at reaching out. They are not good at broadening the tent. They are not good at getting beyond the bristling, mean way they view everyone who is an opponent. Even after their victories – they are in power, remember – the Conservatives of the Stephen Harper party, still radiate the sullenness of a party denied, a party – even though it is in power, is making the big calls, setting the agenda – nursing a sense of injury that they haven’t been fully acknowledged, fully appreciated for the wonderful folks they are.

Chantal Hebert. In the larger unity picture, the notion of a prime minister launching an advertising campaign to fuel a nationalist backlash against another national party leader is the equivalent of poisoning a common well in the hope that one’s neighbour will be the first to die.

Jim Travers. Conservatives have a political interest as well as a right to ask where Michael Ignatieff has been. A more pressing question for the rest of us is where, exactly, is Stephen Harper taking this country and its declining democracy.

Stephen Hume. Frankly, this kind of politics demeans democracy, insults the voters and further undermines their desire to participate in the process and says far more about those who embrace such a campaign of divisive belittlement than it does about the targets of the advertising. If you ask me, these attack ads are what’s un-Canadian, not Ignatieff’s career as a world-class intellectual.

Michael Den Tandt. These ads are schoolyard tripe — insular, provincial, anti-intellectual. Is this the best that Harper and the finest conservative minds in the land can do? Enough of this, dare we say it, crap. Let’s have a clash of ideas, in the House and in the street and in the news. Let’s look up, not down.

Andrew Hunt. The latest Conservative party television advertisements attacking Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff are among the most offensive smear ads I’ve ever seen … These Conservative attack ads appeal to the basest sort of anti-Americanism by stirring hate toward the United States.

Angelo Persichilli. Last week the Conservative party started another round of negative ads against Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff and, according to some pollsters, Canadians are fed up with it. So am I.

Globe and Mail. Only the next election will tell if the Conservatives have succeeded in striking a nerve with voters. But it is disheartening that, after extensive research into public attitudes toward Mr. Ignatieff, their strategists have concluded that it is his intellectualism and his worldliness that make him vulnerable. If Canadians reject the Liberal Leader, it should be for other reasons.

Toronto Star. Regardless of whether they were wearing Conservative party hats or PMO hats on Wednesday, the two officials have already been unmasked as Harper’s director of communications, Kory Teneycke, and his senior Quebec adviser, Dimitri Soudas. At a time of economic upheaval, when Canadians should be debating the effectiveness of the national stimulus plan and the problems with employment insurance, this is what the top minds in the PMO are preoccupied with?

Kitchener-Waterloo Record. Of course, negative attack ads will appeal to certain individuals, perhaps to those who always see the world through partisan eyes. But Conservatives shouldn’t settle for that. If they want to form a majority government, they are going to have to appeal to people outside their base. They need to seek the votes of Canadians who didn’t previously vote for them. Negative attack ads won’t do that.

Edmonton Journal. Indeed, there is more than one way the salvo could home back in on the Conservatives: It could tell voters the government fears its record is not a strong selling point in the middle of a recession; and perhaps even more dangerously from a Tory point of view, it could give Ignatieff a heaven-sent opportunity to shine in the public spotlight at a time, in between elections, when opposition leaders usually find it difficult to attract public attention or to avoid sounding negative themselves.

Letters to the editor here, here, here, here, here and here.