Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

PM's pick of Calgary as 'greatest city' draws heckles

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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 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 Harper'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 No. 5, 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 No. 3 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.

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 12, 2012 A2

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