Wynne hopes Harper doesn't have a 'vendetta' against Ontario - InfoNews

Current Conditions

Sunny
-2.0°C

Wynne hopes Harper doesn't have a 'vendetta' against Ontario

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne hopes Prime Minister Stephen Harper doesn't have a "vendetta" against the people of the province, saying the well-being of Canadians should dictate their working relationship, not his "feelings." Wynne is shown at the start of a session at the annual Council of the Federation meeting in Charlottetown on Friday, August 29, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
December 19, 2014 - 1:48 PM

TORONTO - Ontario's premier hopes Prime Minister Stephen Harper doesn't have a "vendetta" against the people of the province, saying the well-being of Canadians should dictate their working relationship, not his "feelings."

Kathleen Wynne's last meeting with Harper was more than a year ago, on Dec. 5, 2013, and she has since embarked on a public campaign urging him to put an end to their strained working relationship. When Harper was in the Toronto area last week he did not meet with Wynne, but fit in a private face-to-face with newly elected Toronto Mayor John Tory.

"I really believe that as leaders and as politicians with a lot of responsibility we have to be able to, all of us, rise above the personal," Wynne said in a year-end interview with The Canadian Press.

"I don't think this should be about a personal interaction. It should be about the offices of prime minister and premier of Ontario having a good working relationship because that's in the best interest of the people of the province and quite frankly it's in the best interest of the people of the country."

The prime minister's director of communications said Harper "does anticipate having a future meeting with the premier."

Jason MacDonald did not say why more than a year has passed since Wynne and Harper's last face-to-face meeting, but noted they spoke on the phone "as recently as this fall."

The Liberal premier and the Conservative prime minister have publicly taken jabs at each other over pension plans, the provincial deficit and infrastructure spending. Wynne often invoked Harper criticisms on those topics during the spring election that saw her win a majority government.

So was it one dig in particular that soured their relationship?

"You'll have to ask Prime Minister Harper," Wynne said.

"I hope the prime minister of Canada doesn't have a particular vendetta against the people of Ontario and against the province because, as I say, this isn't personal. This isn't about Stephen Harper's feelings about the province or a particular politician. This is about the well-being of the country as it's connected to the well-being of Ontario."

Wynne pointed to Alberta's economy and falling oil prices, saying Ontario's economy can be a buffer against commodity price volatility.

"So it's very important that Ontario do well and that should be a shared project of the premier and the prime minister of the country."

The Liberal government's plan to eliminate Ontario's budget deficit in 2017-18 is still on track, she said.

Harper has recently said the Ontario government should focus less on "confrontation" and more on getting its fiscal house in order. Ontario has a $12.5-billion deficit, while Ottawa is banking on a $1.6-billion surplus for 2015-16.

Fitch Ratings on Friday downgraded Ontario's long-term debt rating to AA-, saying "difficult actions" will be necessary for the province to meet its target of balance.

Another major sticking point in the politicians' relationship has been pension plans.

Wynne has set about to create a made-in-Ontario plan, complaining that Harper's aversion toward pension reform is "offensive and inexplicable." Harper, meanwhile, has panned Wynne's pension plan proposal, saying people prefer tax breaks as a reward for saving for retirement, rather than having their taxes hiked to force them to save.

Perhaps next year a detente will come, but Wynne hopes it's before the next federal election, set for October.

"I'm not sitting around with nothing to do," she said. "I'm very busy and I'm working with my colleague premiers. I've met with five premiers in the last few months and I am going to continue to work to advance the interests of the country and the province, but I hope at some point there will be a federal partner with whom to do that."

News from © The Canadian Press, 2014
The Canadian Press

  • Popular penticton News
  • Comments
  • New mountain highway proposed between Red Deer and Kamloops
    An Alberta development group is pitching the idea of a new highway linking central Alberta to B.C. cutting through the mountains and a section of Banff National Park. The Central Alberta Eco
  • Kamloops firefighter back at work after co-workers saved his life
    Four months after his co-workers saved his life, a Kamloops firefighter is back at work. Mike Silva has been working with Kamloops Fire Rescue for 15 years and was enjoying some time off in
  • Pier 1 closing all of its stores in Canada
    Pier 1 Imports, Inc. announced today that it has entered into bankruptcy protection and is pursuing a sale. The retailer  commenced voluntary Chapter 11 proceedings in the U.S. Bankrupt
  • West Kelowna's Bull Mountain glistens for its close-up
    It’s not a secret that West Kelowna’s family ski hill is getting infused with new life. Bull Mountain Adventure Park is being built on the remnants of Crystal Mountain Resort, an
  • Vernon family captures mesmerizing melting ice
    A Vernon family was on their way home from Kelowna when they made a pit stop after noticing a beautiful scene along Wood Lake. Matthew Royal and his daughters noticed how “cool”
View Site in: Desktop | Mobile