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Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne speaks to media at Queen's Park Toronto, Ontario, Tuesday, January 6, 2015. Prime Minister Stephen Harper met with Wynne for the first time in more than a year. (

It took quiet talks between Ontario officials and their federal counterparts to pave the way for a thawing of relations between Kathleen Wynne and Stephen Harper.

The back-channel diplomacy culminated on Friday, when the Prime Minister's staff offered the Premier what she had long been asking for: a face-to-face meeting.

Ms. Wynne on Tuesday gave this account of how she reached a détente with Mr. Harper, whose sit-down with her the previous evening at a Toronto hotel before the world junior hockey final was their first in more than a year.

"There had been a back and forth between our officials," the Premier said at Queen's Park. "They made it clear on Friday the Prime Minister was going to be in town, and then we were able to set up the meeting."

That confab ended with no specific commitments from the federal government, Ms. Wynne said. But she nonetheless cheered it as a step forward, and said Mr. Harper had agreed to further tête-à-têtes.

"Did we get commitments on particular investments? No," she said. "Those relationships are established and the connection between the human beings is solidified. That's a tangible outcome."

Mr. Harper's spokesman said Tuesday the meeting "was constructive and covered a range of important issues."

Ms. Wynne said she and Mr. Harper discussed her request for $1-billion from the federal government to help build a road or rail line to the Ring of Fire mineral deposit in Northern Ontario. They also talked about building up the auto sector, to which their governments have both given large sums of money in the past, and improving access to drinking water on First Nations reserves.

The Premier would not say whether she and the Prime Minister agreed to tone down their public attacks on each other's policies as a condition of their more cordial relationship.

But the circumstances of the meeting suggest the pair are trying to be subtle. Both Ms. Wynne and Mr. Harper kept the sit-down secret until reporters heard rumours about it a few hours in advance and began asking questions.

Mr. Harper had refused to meet with Ms. Wynne for more than a year because he was apparently upset she had vociferously criticized him during last spring's election for not expanding the Canada Pension Plan. He hit back by criticizing Ontario for having a large budget deficit.

Ms. Wynne said Tuesday such battles are just a natural part of politics.

"My feelings or his feelings, that's not the issue … the point is that we're able to communicate, we're able to talk through differences and either agree to disagree or move forward," she said.

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