Prime Minister Stephen Harper speaks during question period in the House of Commons in Ottawa, Thursday. — Photo by Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press
Whether they’re being ranked on happiness, affordability, waste management or congested roads, Canada’s biggest cities often make the top 10 in a variety of international surveys.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper has now weighed in with a ranking of his own, calling Calgary Canada’s “greatest city.”
Harper made the impromptu remarks while paying tribute to the founders of the Calgary Stampede on Friday.
“I think if the founders could be here today and see the great city, see what has built up around this event, they would be amazed ... to see that their Stampede has been part of giving birth to the greatest city and the greatest country in the world,” Harper said just before the Stampede parade began.
Harper’s remarks now seem to have captured the attention of some Canadians, and some media outlets as well.
“Harper’s ’Calgary is No. 1’ comment stirs the pot” read a CBC headline Wednesday.
“Calgary is indeed the greatest city, thank you very much,” was the headline of a Calgary Herald opinion piece.
Many readers have disagreed with the prime minister’s comment.
“I was born in Calgary and lived there as an adult for a while too,” read a comment posted by a reader on the CBC website.
“I’ve also lived in Victoria and Edmonton. I like both the other cities better,” he wrote.
“I have been in a lot of cities in Canada” wrote another. “I think our oldest, friendliest, most spectacular and welcoming city is St. John’s Newfoundland.”
A quick glance of recent polls shows Calgary did make the top 10 list of The Economist Intelligence Unit’s most livable cities index in 2011, coming in at number five, just behind Toronto and Vancouver.
Vancouver reigned for almost a decade on the coveted EIU livability index as the top city in the world to live in, but was bumped in a controversial decision to number three last year.
And Montreal took the fourth overall spot in the transport category with its public transit system deemed one of the best in the index, in addition to having the second highest share of non-automobile commuters at 29 per cent.
Surprisingly, Vancouver was also named both the country’s greenest city in 2011 on the EIU’s U.S. and Canada Green City Index and the most congested with traffic in a recent survey by a European global-positioning-system company.
Toronto also made the Green City Index, earning a fourth-place ranking overall in the waste category, which the report said was driven by its 44 per cent recycling rate.
Ottawa took the top spot in Money Sense magazine’s list of the top 10 cities to live in Canada this month, while Calgary made it to number 14 and Toronto 47 out of 50 Canadian cities. Regina took number five in the same survey.
Meanwhile, Robert Reid, an editor with the popular travel guide “Lonely Planet”, declared Saskatoon the most “tunefully suggestive city”’ in the world in January, which prompted him to write a song with the lyrics “it’s got seven bridges, it’s got river trails, and it’s the place from which Joni Mitchell hails.”