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The Hamilton Spectator
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Friday May 7, 2006
A highly publicized face-to-face meeting between the prime minister and Ontario's premier ended with the premier shrugging off suggestions of a growing rift between the two leaders of different political stripes.

Premier Dalton McGuinty said he and Prime Minister Stephen Harper had a good get-together Thursday night in what was described as the pair's first formal one-on-one conversation since Harper's election win in January.

McGuinty said the two mostly discussed the premier's favourite topic when it comes to Ottawa: a so-called fiscal imbalance that has Ontario contributing more to federal coffers and equalization payments to have-not provinces, than it gets back in federal services.

Harper's minority Conservative government has committed to meeting with all premiers on how the provinces share money to cover post-secondary education, health care and other needs.

But the Liberal premier rejected suggestions he's facing difficulty getting Harper's attention, or that the two are at odds - even though Harper's visit with McGuinty differed sharply from recent meetings with other premiers - most notably Quebec's Jean Charest, a former federal Conservative leader.

While Harper and Charest got together during at least one meeting for a handshake and photo opportunity, the prime minister avoided any chance of being seen publicly alongside McGuinty, whose province voted largely Liberal in January's federal election. (source)

McGuinty aims to work on 'common ground' with Harper