Stephen Harper holds 1st meeting with Kathleen Wynne in more than a year
Ontario premier had been urging prime minister to meet with her
Prime Minister Stephen Harper met with Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne to discuss a number of issues related to jobs and the economy for the first time in a little over a year this evening,
The meeting, held ahead of the gold medal World Juniors hockey game in Toronto, lasted less than 45 minutes and ended shortly before 7 p.m. ET.
The prime minister last met with Wynne in Ottawa on Dec. 5, 2013.
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In a statement issued within a half hour of the meeting, the Prime Minister's Office said the two leaders "agreed on the importance of ongoing investments in infrastructure, including the federal government’s new Building Canada Fund.
"They also discussed the need to remove barriers to internal trade, the importance of continued support from both levels of government for the manufacturing and automotive sectors, as well as the important role of resource development for the Ontario and Canadian economies."
The two agreed to "remain in touch," the Prime Minister's Office said.
Wynne said in a written statement that today's meeting with Harper was "a positive step forward" between the province and the federal government.
Infrastructure funding — particularly for northern Ontario's Ring of Fire — was on the agenda, as well as the drinking water available to First Nations.
"Though it technically falls under federal jurisdiction, it is of concern to both our governments and we agreed that, going forward, our governments will work together to make the progress that is needed," Wynne's office said of water-quality concerns.
Today's tête-à-tête comes after Wynne sent Harper a series of letters in the last few months urging him to meet with her to discuss a long wish-list related to federal-provincial matters.
Wynne's most recent letter sent to him on Dec. 11 also included letters from half a dozen of her Liberal cabinet ministers urging their federal counterparts to meet with them to discuss everything from the economy to infrastructure spending.
NDP Leader Tom Mulcair said it was time Harper met with the premier of Canada's largest province.
"I am happy that he's … decided to bury the hatchet, because he was taking a very vitriolic view of the premier of Ontario," Mulcair said in Ottawa on Monday.
Mulcair criticized Harper for not meeting with Canada's premiers as a group, either by holding first ministers meetings or by attending the premiers' Council of the Federation meetings.
"This is a federation, we've got to work together … Stephen Harper's never understood it that way."
Harper was in the Toronto area last month when he met with newly elected Toronto Mayor John Tory at Pearson airport on Dec. 12, but not Wynne.
The prime minister and Wynne have spent the last few months publicly trading barbs over the provincial deficit and infrastructure spending.
Wynne told Harper 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 after Harper said the Ontario government should focus less on "confrontation" and more on getting its fiscal house in order.
Wynne also recently said she had "grave" concerns over Canada's new prostitution law and asked the province's attorney general to advise her on the "constitutional validity" of the legislation.