Stephen Harper won his majority by convincing enough Ontarians to vote for him. But those same Ontarians now have a premier who is not a Harper ally. Far from it. Tim Harper writes in the Toronto Star:
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.
But it's not just Wynne who the Conservatives see as their adversary:
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.
And Harper hasn't helped his case in Ontario:
The list of Wynne’s grievances is real and long. They are not all meant to be distractions or wedges for the 2015 federal vote.
Wynne’s agenda would include infrastructure spending, inter-provincial trade, federal transfers, employment insurance and training, her go-it-alone pension plan and the lack of federal action on missing and murdered aboriginal women. The two governments have previously clashed over refugee health care.
For the Harperites, this is personal. Ontario voters, however, are likely to believe that it is more than that. By now they may have understood that the Cowboy from Etobicoke is working for someone else.
The next time around, Ontario is Ground Zero.