Premier Kathleen Wynne says she and Prime Minister Stephen Harper agreed to disagree on her Ontario pension plan scheme, but agreed on many other important matters.
The morning after her much-anticipated 30-minute confab with Harper — their first in 13 months — Wynne hailed the meeting as the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
“It’s important that we work together — for me, that’s a tangible result,” the premier told reporters Tuesday at Queen’s Park.
“Did we get commitments on particular investments? No . . . but the fact is that we have now got the ability to follow up in a few months . . . on some of these discussions,” she said.
“We had a positive, constructive meeting and that’s good for the people of Ontario and good for the people of the country that we’re able to have this conversation.”
Wynne said Harper “made it clear that he still doesn’t agree with our Ontario Retirement Pension Plan,” which sparked the 396-day Cold War between the province and Ottawa.
“But I knew that and that’s not a surprise. We’ve had that discussion, we are moving ahead with the implementation,” she said,
“The understanding is that . . . he does not agree with the direction that we’re going and we are continuing on that path.”
During their previous meeting on Dec. 5, 2013 in Ottawa, Harper refused to bolster the Canada Pension Plan, which pays out a maximum benefit of around $12,000 a year.
Last May — in the first week of the provincial election campaign — Wynne confided to the Star that the prime minister had “kind of smirked” during the December discussion and said Canadians need to save for their own retirement instead of relying upon public pensions.
Harper’s officials disputed her account and he refused to meet with the premier until Monday night at the Fairmont Royal York Hotel.
After the latest meeting, a communiqué from the prime minister’s office said the two “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 federal statement said.
“The leaders agreed that they would remain in touch on these and other issues important to Ontarians and Canadians.”
Monday’s tête-à-tête comes as Harper heads into a federal election on or before Oct. 19 and his Conservatives must hold scores of Ontario seats if they are to continue in government.
While Wynne has campaigned for federal Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau, she emphasized that she can put aside partisan differences to work with the prime minister for the greater good.
“This is not a personal issue. This is not about one person slighting another person or vice versa,” she said.