OAKVILLE, Ont. - Premier Dalton McGuinty appears to be positioning himself as Captain Ontario ahead of the fall election, warning that a seismic shift in the federal political landscape could come at great cost to the province.

The Liberal premier promised Tuesday to make sure Ontario's interests are protected now that federal power has shifted to the western provinces and Quebec.

"As you know, there is a majority Conservative government dominated by the West, there is an official Opposition party dominated by Quebec," he said after visiting an Oakville, Ont., plant that makes landing gear for planes.

"We want to make sure that the Ontario voice remains strong. So we will continue to flex our elbows and assert ourselves."

The tough talk comes as McGuinty heads to Vancouver for three days of meetings with his provincial and territorial counterparts.

The Council of the Federation is expected to discuss aboriginal issues and health care, but McGuinty said he'll make Ontario's interests his No. 1 priority.

"We want to make sure that nothing happens -- either at the Council of the Federation or in Ottawa -- that takes Ontario off track," he said.

His Liberal government, which is facing an election Oct. 6, would oppose "any effort" by the federal Tories to reduce transfers to the province, he said.

"Just as we would be opposed by any effort to increase the size of the equalization package for all of the Canadian provinces," McGuinty added. "Both of those things would come at a cost to Ontarians."

But he does want all premiers to come together and "encourage" Ottawa to move ahead with a new long-term accord for health-care funding.

McGuinty's political rivals had three words for the premier: Do the math.

Ontario isn't likely to get lost in the shuffle when the province is well-represented in the House of Commons by both Tories and NDP, they pointed out. The federal Liberals, on the other hand, were decimated in the province.

"It's typical McGuinty Liberal arrogance to ignore the fact that two-thirds of the seats in Ontario federally are held by Conservatives," said provincial Tory Lisa MacLeod.

"That type of arrogance -- taking Ontario for granted -- has been the Achilles heel of the federal Liberals. I think it's going to be a real problem for the provincial Liberals as well."

The premier has also failed to notice that the NDP's Ontario MPs outnumber the Liberals two to one, said longtime provincial New Democrat Michael Prue.

McGuinty, who's lagging in public opinion polls, seems to be going for the oldest trick in the book: if your job's in jeopardy, attack the federal government, said Prue.

The premier also has a poor track record when it comes to winning concessions from Ottawa, Prue added. McGuinty has failed to get more federal funding for new immigrants and energy projects, for example.

"The only thing that he was successful on -- and I wish he hadn't have been -- was the HST," he said, referring to the controversial tax harmonization agreement the Liberals brokered with federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty in 2009.

"He went there in secret and he was able to negotiate a deal and it was all accomplished before anybody knew what was even going on."