Saturday, May 13, 2006

Harper On Ontario:"Not Throwing In The Towel"

Only 100 days in office, and we have already reached a stage where we talk of salvaging relationships:
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.


Anonymous said...

Does Harper realize that a third of his caucus comes from Ontario?

Craig said...

Do Ontario residents realize that the WIFE of the Federal Finance Minister Flaherty is now a MPP with the Ontario government?

Or that the BROTHER of Dalton McGuinty is an MP with the Federal Liberal opposition?

I am sure there are plenty of discussions within these families - Dalton will leak that he is pissed off with Harper to his brother so they can make demonizing political points in the HoC; Flaherty's wife can let her husband know where Dalton is falling short of promises to Ontario.

They don't need the hysgterical media headlines and blogger balderdash. These people have the facts and the media and all of us do not.

Arm chair politicians - we were not elected to determine policy. If you have particular insights take them to the standing committees or write your MPP or MP.

PR said...

Let's keep in mind here that an Ontario Liberal, Pupatello, is the only one so far that has overtly criticized the other side. Why didn't McGuinty reign in his minister?

dalestreet said...

With their less than cooperative approach to Ontario, the Conservatives are attempting capitalise on Canada's inherent divisive regionalism to consolidate power.

While the Chretien Liberals used "western alienation" and the fear it engendered in "the east" to secure successive majorities, the Harper Conservatives are attempting to create the fear of getting a "bad deal" - during the fiscal imbalance negotiations - within the electorate of our various provinces.

While this tactic may not win the Conservatives overwhelming support in Ontario, I imagine that it is expected to swing voters in the other nine provinces.

Chretien had his bogeyman in the persona of Ralph Klein, Harper is attempting to create one in Dalton McGuinty.

It's a shame that the perception in Ottawa seems to be that in order to win a majority in Canada, divisiveness, NOT unity is the key.

What is needed in Ottawa are more voices like this.