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Despite hopes for hat trick, Harper strikes conciliatory tone with McGuinty

Stephen Harper wants Dalton McGuinty to know he is eager to work with the Liberal minority government elected by Ontario voters this week

"I congratulate Premier McGuinty on his successful campaign and on his re-election for a third term as Premier of Ontario," the Prime Minister said in a statement released after the provincial Liberals won for the third time in a row.

"I look forward to continue working with the Premier and his team as we tackle the issues important to Ontarians and all Canadians, including creating a more prosperous and secure country," Mr. Harper said.

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In politics, after all, bygones must be bygones.

The Prime Minister's desire to work with Mr. McGuinty was less evident this summer at a barbeque he attended with Toronto's conservative Mayor Rob Ford.

"We've started cleaning up the left-wing mess federally in the area," Mr. Harper said at the time. "Rob's doing it municipally and now we've got to complete the hat trick and do it provincially as well."

Federal cabinet ministers repeatedly appeared during the provincial election to endorse Progressive Conservative leader Tim Hudak and his team. Nigel Wright, the Prime Minister's chief of staff, held a $250-a-ticket fundraising dinner at his home for the Tory candidate in the Toronto riding Trinity-Spadina.

And Finance Minister Jim Flaherty warned ominously during the Ontario campaign: "I worry about any government that might not exercise the necessary fiscal responsibility."

But that's is now water under the bridge.

The same is true, apparently, in Prince Edward Island where the Liberal government cruised to victory on Monday night.

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"On October 3, 2011, the people of Prince Edward Island re-elected Liberal Party leader Robert Ghiz to form their new provincial government," Mr. Harper said in a statement when the results were known.

"On behalf of the Government of Canada, I congratulate Premier Ghiz and his team on their victory. I look forward to working with them on promoting economic prosperity and addressing issues of importance to the people of Prince Edward Island and Canada."

The PEI Liberals see skullduggery in the fact that allegations of bribery levelled by three former provincial employees about a defunct provincial immigration nominee program were leaked to the press at the outset of the provincial campaign.

It was made known that federal Immigration Minister Jason Kenney had turned the file over to the RCMP

According to the Charlottetown Guardian, a senior adviser to Conservative Senator Mike Duffy was seen having breakfast with one of the three informants. She also apparently spent the day as their driver.

But the two levels of government have to work together. So campaign battles must be abandoned when the votes have been counted. And Mr. Harper's statement suggests he wants to put the animosity behind him.

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About the Author
Parliamentary reporter

Gloria Galloway has been a journalist for almost 30 years. She worked at the Windsor Star, the Hamilton Spectator, the National Post, the Canadian Press and a number of small newspapers before being hired by The Globe and Mail as deputy national editor in 2001. Gloria returned to reporting two years later and joined the Ottawa bureau in 2004. More

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