Harper refused to be seen publicly with McGuinty before or after the two met for their first one-on-one in a Toronto hotel room Thursday evening, and raised eyebrows minutes later with his partisan introduction of Tory.
The Liberal premier chose his words carefully Friday as he responded to the comments by the new Conservative prime minister.
"I don't think it's helpful when it comes to establishing a good, positive, working relationship between the people's representative - duly elected - and the prime minister of Canada," McGuinty said. "But I will continue to make efforts to reach out to the prime minister."
However, Ontario Education Minister Sandra Pupatello wasn't nearly as diplomatic as her boss Friday in criticizing Harper's actions at the Conservative fundraiser.
"I think it is total inexperience on the part of the prime minister," Pupatello said in an interview. "He may really not realize how rude his behaviour is being interpreted, never mind by us, but by the people of Ontario."
Tory said Friday that people should not be surprised that a Conservative prime minister would publicly say he expects a provincial Conservative leader to become the next premier.
"I really think it is a bit galling for Mr. McGuinty, the lead attack dog on the Harper government on every issue every day, now to try and pass himself off as some sort of a defenceless little puppy," Tory said.
What's worse, he's wounding sensitive Ontario feelings by spending too much time with and saying too many nice things about Jean Charest and Quebec:
At a dinner two weeks ago to honour that former prime minister, Brian Mulroney, both Mr. Harper and Quebec Premier Jean Charest were among the invited speakers.
Mr. Charest joked that he had told his wife he would be meeting the Prime Minister. "What, again?" she had replied.
Mr. Charest then deadpanned that he hoped Dalton McGuinty wasn't watching.
It's unclear whether Mr. McGuinty was, but he was definitely watching on Thursday night when Mr. Harper gave him short shrift at their first meeting. The hastily arranged encounter took place in a hotel, adjacent to the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, where Mr. Harper would later attend an evening for provincial Progressive Conservative Leader John Tory.
Since Mr. Harper took office he has met on four separate occasions with the Quebec Premier.
By contrast, at the Prime Minister's one meeting with Mr. McGuinty, Ontario Liberals say, Mr. Harper behaved rudely to their Premier. Moreover, they argue the Prime Minister appears to be pitting two provinces against each other.
This sort of whining like a jilted schoolgirl to the press won't do McGuinty any favours in either the Harper government's eyes or the public's.
But it is reflective of the Ontario attitude that in a federation of equals, it is the most equal of all.