Yesterday, I wrote that Stephen Harper's refusal to deal with Kathleen Wynne could have significant electoral consequences. Martin Regg Cohn writes that those consequences are being felt now with the alliance which Wynne has established with Quebec premier Philippe Couillard:
There’s a reason the Quebec-Ontario summit turned into a meeting of minds and ministers: Kathleen Wynne and Philippe Couillard are simpatico both in style and substance.
Beyond the good will, there are good works on offer:
Ontario and Quebec signed an unprecedented deal to swap 500 megawatts of electricity during peak periods by way of bartering. They compared notes on climate change. And they celebrated Ontario’s francophone face in a way that touched, viscerally, the visiting French Quebecers.
At ground level, it is a federalist fantasy come true. Together, they are laying the groundwork for a Central Canadian axis of power (sharing) that is both political and electrical — with environmental and electoral benefits.
Harper's policy is to not attend meetings of the Council of the Federation. He claims he prefers to meet with premiers individually. But, in Wynne's case, he prefers not to meet at all:
On the eve of the Toronto summit, Harper delivered a bizarre snub to Wynne by refusing her overtures for a federal-provincial meeting. With her request unrequited, the spurned premier went public with their correspondence — pointedly asking why Canada’s biggest province, with 13 million people, can’t get federal face time.
Then she got down to business with Couillard — showing that where there is political will, there can be policy headway.
And that is the point. Mr. Harper lacks the political will to do all kinds of things. In fact, the only thing he wants to do is balance the budget. And, because he has chosen to remove himself from the stage, others will take his place. Cohn writes that there will soon be a third member of the alliance -- Alberta premier Jim Prentice.
Mr. Harper may indeed discover that he resides in Nowhere Land -- a real Nowhere Man.