Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne and six of her Liberal cabinet ministers are urging their federal counterparts to meet with them ahead of the Conservative government's next budget to discuss what they say are pressing provincial-federal matters.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper recently said the Ontario government should focus less on "confrontation" and more on getting its fiscal house in order.
Wynne hit back today saying the relationship between the prime minister and the premier of the country's largest province should be one of "collaboration, not confrontation."
Her comments came in a letter she wrote to Harper today calling on him to meet with her to discuss a range of issues from infrastructure investments to pension reform and violence against indigenous women and girls. It was the second such letter she sent the prime minister in less than a month.
"As vital as ministerial co-operation is, it is no substitute for leadership and collaboration at the top," Wynne says in the letter sent today.
"For that reason, I am once again asking you to meet with me at your earliest opportunity to discuss these issues, which are of great importance to the people of Ontario and their well-being."
Here's a summary of Ontario's wish list:
- Charles Sousa is urging Finance Minister Joe Oliver to review its fiscal arrangements with the province, which Ontario says "have fallen out of step with the economic and demographic shifts." Sousa would also like to see Ottawa consider potential changes to the Canada Pension Plan.
- Brad Duguid is asking Infrastructure Minister Denis Lebel to increase the federal government's share of spending on public infrastructure. He also submitted a list of over 16 projects Ontario hopes will receive federal funding under the Building Canada Fund, including six highway expansion projects.
- David Zimmer and Tracy MacCharles have written a joint letter to Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt and Status of Women Minister Kellie Leitch calling on them to discuss "the active role" Ottawa can play in upcoming discussions on missing and murdered aboriginal women.
- Michael Gravelle in a letter to Natural Resources Minister Greg Rickford is reiterating Ontario's desire to see Ottawa match the $1-billion commitment the province has made towards infrastructure in the Ring of Fire.
- Reza Moridi has written to Minister of Employment and Social Development Jason Kenney to discuss labour market issues, including funding for key labour market surveys.
Wynne said on Sunday she had "grave" concerns about the federal government's new prostitution law, which came into effect on Dec. 6, Canada's national day of remembrance and action on violence against women.
She asked Ontario's attorney general to advise her on the "constitutional validity" of the new law.
In her letter to Harper today, Wynne said was taking the PM's advice after he suggested Ontario ministers reach out to their federal counterparts. Harper's response came on Nov. 17 — 62 days after she wrote to him on Sept. 16.
The Ontario premier wrote to Harper again on Nov. 19. Today's letter is the third in recent months.
Harper last met with Wynne in Ottawa on Dec. 5, 2013.