Harper insisted that he's sees no barriers to working with the McGuinty government.
"Notwithstanding our partisan differences, I'm not yet throwing in the towel on working with the government of Ontario," he said.
"In spite of the fact that there have been some things out of the Ontario government that concern me, we nevertheless did work productively with the government of Ontario on the softwood lumber deal.
"We want at all possible to have good relations with all the provinces to the extent we can," the Prime Minister said.
Partisan differences? I can recall a former federal Liberal government that saw McGuinty as a complete pain in the ass, even accusing him of costing the federal Liberals votes in Ontario because of his criticisms. The McGuinty record defies the "partisan" angle that Harper suggests, but it does reveal how our PM approaches everything. Of course Harper would view the relationship within the lens of partisanship, it is afterall the Conservatives primary source of inspiration.
If a chasm exists between Ontario and Ottawa, it is a function of Harper's hyper-politicism that dictates all decisions. McGuinty is the same leader he has always been- what has changed is a federal government that wants to undermine and alienate. We will see further evidence of partisanship when the Premiers meet for the fiscal balance talks. Can anyone envision a scenario where Ontario comes out a winner and McGuinty can go into the next election with a nice surplus and a record of achievement?
Harper uses the word "partisan", McGuinty prefers words like "fairness". One man approaches the discussion based on principle, the other electoral want. What does it say about a PM, that only 100 days into his mandate and he must utter the words "not throwing in the towel". With lightning speed Harper has shown his hand and soured the relationship. McGuinty would be a fool not to see the Quebec strategy, which clearly marginalizes Ontario. Create a conflict, then disparage the other side with words like "obstructionist" and absolve yourself of responsibility. We already hear John Tory accusing McGuinty of not "working well with others" in an attempt to made McGuinty look the problem. This situation is analogous to Harper's attacks on the Liberals, as though our deteriorating relationship with the Americans was Canada's fault.
My prediction, Harper's politicism will backfire and McGuinty will emerge stronger as Ontarians rally around the obvious optics. And yes, we may see more partisanship from the Ontario Premier, as he makes the case why this government is bad for Ontario. I can now see a scenario where McGuinty openly campaigns against the Conservatives next election. Whatever seats may be gained in Quebec, could easily be countered with loses in Ontario. This debate is now partisan, because Stephen Harper decided to make it that way.