05/08/2012 08:18 EDT | Updated 07/08/2012 05:12 EDT

Twitterverse abuzz after Harper spokesman's exchange with "proud canadian"

OTTAWA - The rules of the Twitterverse say don't feed the trolls, but one twitter user who tried to bait the prime minister's spokesman Tuesday wound up with a taste of his own medicine.

An anonymous tweeter with a mere 18 followers tried to goad Andrew MacDougall, Prime Minister Stephen Harper's director of communications, into an exchange by referring to his boss with a profanity.

Rather than follow the conventional wisdom of ignoring the baited barb, MacDougall parried it and pushed it right back into his would-be tormentor's feed.

"how does it feel to work for the biggest (a**hole) in canada," Oxy28 asked in a tweet directed at MacDougall.

"I wouldn't know. I don't work for you," came the retort.

The instigator is a virtual unknown in the Twitterverse who goes by the name TJ and is a self-professed "proud canadian who's deeply embarrassed" by the Harper regime.

The user later deleted the notorious entry from the string of profanity-laced tirades against the current administration that comprised his Twitter feed.

By then, however, the word was out. The Twitterverse was soon abuzz with reaction to the exchange, with pundits and the populous alike weighing in to support MacDougall.

"Love @PMO_MacDougall's response to heckler," wrote political columnist John Ivison. "Civility is dead on Twitter, so bring it on."

"I applaud your answer @pmo_macdougall. Freedom of speech. We live in Canada, it's a democratic right," tweeted user M_Rogerson4.

Among the praise, however, were a handful of posts criticizing MacDougall for failing to turn the other cheek.

"Actually Andrew, you do work for @oxy28 and every other Canadian. Not just Harper and Conservative voters," read one frequently retweeted barb.

The spat even began generating headlines beyond the Canadian border, with the several Australian news websites running items chronicling the testy exchange.

MacDougall offered no further comment.