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Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne meets with Prime Minister Stephen Harper in a Toronto hotel.

Prime Minister’s Office

It's like it's a whole new year or something.

After 12 months of cold shoulders, Prime Minister Stephen Harper this week finally honoured Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne's request for a private meeting. The two sat at a round table in a suitably square downtown Toronto hotel conference room for 30 minutes and were perfectly agreeable about... everything: jobs (there should be more); collaboration (important); infrastructure investment (vital going forward). Ms. Wynne called the face time "positive." Mr. Harper said they would "remain in touch." A grateful nation stepped more lightly.

So why – after his sharply worded refusals to meet with the Liberal Premier – the change of heart?

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Well, Mr. Harper was in town for a hockey game and had an hour to kill. By using a bit of spare time to accommodate Ms. Wynne, and furthermore agreeing to do it again, he has neutralized the Premier's contention that he doesn't have adequate love for the province where almost half his caucus was elected.

And by doing it now, he gets an unpleasant task off his to-do list before the fast-approaching election campaign officially starts. Smart, if obvious, politics.

Mr. Harper is clearly in New Year's Resolution mode. The same day that he met Ms. Wynne, he trimmed unwanted weight from his cabinet by demoting the snippy Julian Fantino out of Veterans Affairs and into a junior role. Our greying, combative Prime Minister is getting in shape and making new friends. It really is a whole new year. One with an election in it.

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