After months of pleading and cajoling, Premier Kathleen Wynne is finally getting an audience with Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
With Harper headed into a federal election later this year — and his Conservatives dependent on holding Ontario seats to retain government — he agreed to sit down with Wynne.
It comes 396 days after their last meeting on Dec. 5, 2013 in Ottawa.
Wynne’s office confirmed the two most powerful politicians in Canada were to sit down Monday night at 6:15 p.m. in an undisclosed Toronto location.
Their tête-à-tête comes following Wynne’s complaints the prime minister was shunning the country’s most populous and important province.
Last month, the premier admitted to the Toronto Star that perhaps she could have handled the tiff better.
“I wish the kind of personal tension hadn’t entered into it because, really, I don’t have personal antipathy for Stephen Harper. That’s not what this about,” Wynne said in a year-end interview.
“I truly believe that it shouldn’t be about the personalities. It should be about the two offices that have such responsibility having a good working relationship,” she said.
“That part I find unfortunate because it’s not personal for me; I hope it’s not for him.”
In the heat of last spring’s provincial election campaign, Wynne repeatedly attacked Harper in a bid to link him to then Progressive Conservative leader Tim Hudak.
Notably, she confided to the Star that during their last 2013 meeting, the prime minister had “smirked” during a discussion on pension reform and said Canadians should save for their own retirement.
Harper’s office strongly disputed her interpretation of the closed-door session.
“Ms. Wynne is misrepresenting the meeting; it did not transpire the way she says it did. Also, if you look at her public comments afterwards at the time she clearly felt it was productive and she said she felt optimistic,” the prime minister’s chief spokesman Jason MacDonald said last May 8.
To punish the Ontario premier, Harper repeatedly rejected all her appeals for a meeting — even after she won a majority on June 12.
Instead, he found time to sit down with politicians as disparate as newly elected Toronto Mayor John Tory, New Jersey Governor and Republican presidential hopeful Chris Christie, and seemingly every other provincial premier as well as dozens of foreign leaders.