No détente in sight for Stephen Harper and Kathleen Wynne
(Column by Tim Harper) The Long War between Stephen Harper and Kathleen Wynne is only going to get longer — and likely more intense.
There’s simply too much at stake for both sides for détente, certainly not heading into a federal election campaign and the electoral riches available in this province.
The Harper Conservatives remember how Wynne campaigned against them last spring, they know they are dealing with aggressive adversaries in Ontario and they remember well Wynne’s characterization of the Harper “smirk” during that campaign as she recounted a previous, private discussion about pension reform.
They feel there is too much whining coming from a Queen’s Park government trying to take the focus off its own problems.
They want to campaign against a gang that will wear the hated sobriquet of “tax and spend” Liberals, a group of renegades who do not kneel at the Harper altar of tax cuts and shiny balanced books.
Wynne and her Finance Minister Charles Sousa, with their big-spending election budget, their declining revenues, potential tax hikes and blame-it-all-on Ottawa bleating make an inviting target.
“If you wrote a story every time Charles Sousa blamed Ottawa for his problems, you’d end up writing nothing else,’’ a senior Conservative said this week.
“After 11 years in office, it is time for the Ontario Liberals to take responsibility for their economic management,’’ says Finance Minister Joe Oliver — also the GTA minister, by the way.
When Conservatives look at Kathleen Wynne, they see Justin Trudeau. Their instincts tell them to fight and discredit, not to sit and discuss the big issues of the day bedeviling the country’s two largest governments.
They saw Trudeau stumping for Wynne last spring and Wynne returning the favour, appearing on behalf of Trudeau’s candidate in this week’s Whitby-Oshawa byelection.
If Harper is seen to be snubbing Wynne, then he does so at his own peril, because it is risky to campaign as a tired government seeking a new mandate after nearly a decade in office by taking on a popular provincial government, with Wynne and Trudeau campaigning arm-in-arm. (Continued: Toronto Star)