07.11.2012 09:37 AM

To Calgary, with love

It’s my true home, it’s where I grew up, it’s where my family spent the most years: Calgary.

But can anyone explain to me why Stephen Harper would, ever state that it is Canada’s “best” city?

I think it’s pretty awesome, too.  It’s amazing, in fact.

But it seems like a pretty substantial rookie flub on the part of the so-called Master Strategist.

Anyone agree?


  1. Jordan says:

    I don’t really care. It seems like a weird thing for a PM to say but he’s entitled to his opinion, even if I don’t agree with his choice.

    • que sera sera says:

      It’s public stupidity on par with a PM dedicating his political career to obliterating the Liberal Party of Canada.

      Talk about seditious – making war on a legal political party in Canada whose members are MPs, hold seats in the House of Commons, are part of the Government of Canada, and have Canadian citizens supporting and voting for them.

      Since when is it up to a PM to decide what political parties are allowed to form or exist within Canada? And since when should a PM marshal the considerable resources at his political behest to subvert Canadians democratically formed political parties?

      Why would a PM work hard To destroy another political party electorally mandated to serve Canadians?

      Because he is “entitled to his opinion”?

      Or because he is an insecure, small minded, vindictive ar$ehole who cannot stand dissent or competition and who figures his opinion is more important than a diverse electorate across Canada?

  2. bigcitylib says:

    Its only got one way streets. Although it beats the hell our of Winnipeg (which is an Inuit word meaning “frozen tundra”)

    • The Analyst says:

      I guess you haven’t heard about something called “Osborne Village”. Something that neutral experts have labelled the “best neighbourhood in Canada”, a neighbourhood in Winnipeg!

  3. David Roberts says:

    He’s actually being honest rather than giving a politically correct non-answer. I seem to remember another PM saying something very similar about Shawinigan.

  4. Dan says:

    I don’t know. The Western Separatist Reform Party pioneered the tradition of railing against Ottawa and Toronto. Anything that places the center of gravity closer West has paid off for them. And so it turns out, there’s plenty of self-hating Ontarioans who are happy to see manufacturing gutted as oil drives up our dollar. Their refrain is to ask Dalton McGuinty to make Ontario into Alberta, which is going to be a very interesting experiment in a province with no oil.

  5. DanO says:

    At first glance it appears to be. But it doesn’t really cause him much harm -Cons do poorly in just about every other major city across Canada and it comes across as being genuine.

    His spokesperson comfirmed this was his view which would suggest that it wasn’t a flub -but well thought out. I found Rae and Mulcair’s comments to be too bottled up for my taste.

  6. Bil says:

    Don’t politicians always say that in their home constituency? Kind of a dumb thing to talk about but I guess I’m talking about it too …

  7. Ronald O'Dowd says:


    I always find it ridiculous when people on TV say that either Canada is the best country in the world — or on an American broadcast, that the U.S. is.

    It rings so hollow since it’s certainly not for us to decide. That judgment, quite logically, should be made by others (outside the country) who have no vested interest in the outcome.

  8. Rod Smelser says:

    No, I don’t think it’s a mistake. It’s the kind of thing politicians and their publicists say all the time, and is really just a throw-away line, like cheering for the home team.

    As for serioiusly demented stuff, the BC Liberal Govt has mercifully stopped running the embarassingly juvenile “Best Place on Earth” TV ads.

  9. hatrock says:

    Economically, Saskatoon is the greatest city with Edmonton at #2, so I find it surprising Mr. Harper, an economist, would say such a thing.

  10. Clive says:

    Flub? Or a totally inconsequential way of distracting the media and chattering classes from Bev Oda’s air purifier, the F35 debacle, refugee healthcare, &c., &c?

  11. Steve says:

    I guess it depends on what he meant by best. Like you, I grew up in Calgary but left in the early ’70s. I was back in the first half of the ’80s after a stints in Ottawa and Edmonton. Vancouver is home now and you’d have to pry me out of here with dynamite. The last time I was in Calgary it looked and felt more like Denver. They’ve belatedly realized that easily developable land is a mixed blessing. The sprawl is well past where we used to picnic on the weekends. Downtown still feels bleak and empty after 5pm compared with Vancouver. I gather the city’s working to increase residential density in the core. What Calgary does have is the vibe of a city on the make, a sense of possibility. Maybe that’s what Harper was talking about. And it does have some pretty views.

  12. Ottawa Civil Servant says:

    I live in Ottawa, but can’t stand it when local pols claim it is a “world class capital” as if it were Paris or Tokyo.
    I’m from Montréal, so I’ll always claim it as one of the top, but Vancouver, Halifax, Quebec and Calgary are all up there. Easily.
    (Notice I didn’t mention Greater Scarborough, aka Toronto?)

    As for actually saying it out loud, he was addressing Calgarians at the 100th anniversary of the CALGARY Stampede. Its like the IOC Commissioner announcing London as the best games ever and having angry Chinese getting mad that he told THEM that that theirs were the best games ever.

    Pretty petulant if this is all you can damn the PM for on a sunny day in Toronto.
    (If he had said it about Edmonton, we would have known he was lying.)

    • Philip says:

      I have loved living in Ottawa, lots of good times and good people but I have to agree it’s no “world class capital”. Then again, it’s no Ulan Bator either.

  13. JamesHalifax says:

    Of course he said Calgary is the best city….what did you expect? Those are the folks who elected him.

    What do you think the reaction would be if he said Toronto was the best city…..even though he was born and raised there.

    It’s not like he has a lot of support in TO or Montreal in any event.

  14. TDotRome says:

    I love that the author thought it neceassary to point out that PM “resides in Ottawa”. Really?? The Prime Minister makes Ottawa his home? Ya don’t say?

  15. Brad says:

    Every politician says their hometown (or the one that elected them) is the greatest.

  16. Ted H says:

    Nothing unusual about playing to the hometown crowd and PM Harper is one of the most parochial prime ministers we have had but it would have played better to the rest of Canada if he had simply said Calgary is “one of the best cities in Canada”, there would have been no issue then.

  17. KP says:

    ..but nobody rocks like.. Springfield!

  18. Jon Adams says:

    Speaking as someone who moved to Calgary from Regina (the Number 1 city in Canada for melancholy and despair) I did make a few observations of the annual event called the Stampede. Namely, binge drinking, rampant promiscuity, pasty shirtless skinny frat boys wandering around awkwardly with blistered feet from the cowboy boots they just got from Lammle’s sexually harassing anything vaguely woman-shaped, killing dozens of farm animals, eating the most repulsive food imaginable (deep fried twinkies, porksicles, deep fried bath salts, all while insisting what a great time they were having.

    If Calgary was a person, I would consider this a cry for help and Edmonton, Lethbridge and Red Deer should be staging an intervention.

  19. Greg from Calgary says:

    I love it here in Calgary but Canada has many great places to live. Calgary is no better or nor worst. However, I expect Mayor Nenshi to claim Calgary is #1, that is his job as he represents this city. But the PM represents Canada so he should be bragging about the nation as a whole

  20. JamesHalifax says:

    On another note…

    I see the Muslim world is running as expected…given their history. Now….who was it that thought the Egyptian election was a good thing?


    Oh well..they’re in good company.



    I guess I should be grateful that I have already visited and explored these marvels before they were destroyed.

    • Jon Adams says:

      Do you smell Jihadists everywhere you go?

      • JamesHalifax says:

        No…only where they murder or mistreat women, destroy ancient artifacts, or plot terror attacks.

        Given that this describes just about everywhere…..maybe you have a point.

    • Torgo says:

      Yeah, why let people vote if they’re not going to vote for Western-approved candidates? (Not to downplay the social and political problems an Islamist government would present in Egypt, but would a continued dictatorship and repression of the Egyptian people really be a better alternative? Or would it just make things worse in the long run?)

      I’m curious, though, what exactly this has to do with Calgary. Are some random jihadists threatening to destroy the Saddledome?

  21. JamesHalifax says:

    On second thought…..maybe we should import a few of them here to get rid of crap like the Gardner Expressway, or this monstrous waste of money:


  22. Dennis Hollingsworth says:


  23. Anne Peterson says:

    I used to spend some time in Calgary. Never liked it. Edmonton is a much more cosmopolitan city and much more interesting. But Quebec city is the best. Vancouver beats Calgary all to pieces too. As does Halifax. And Victoria. And Nanaimo. And Camrose. But how would Harper know? He drives around in his little security cavalcade with his swat team in the back and looks out his darkened windows. Maybe the only city he has actually experienced in years is Calgary.

    Maybe I am being unfair. Maybe he is going out incognito to mooch around the other cities of Canada unbeknownst to us and he does know what they are really like. Maybe that was him with the hat pulled down over his eyes, sitting behind me at the sidewalk cafe in Quebec City or climbing Signal Hill in Halifax, or eating lobster on the quay that night in Charlottetown or walking through Beacon Hill Park in Victoria smelling the roses. Anybody wanna bet?

    • Greg from Calgary says:

      Really, I found the opposite. Edmonton is pretty blue collar compared to Calgary but to each his own I guess. And yes, I loved living in Vancouver but I don’t miss the house price! But still, what a beautiful city.

    • Kaplan says:

      I was born in Edmonton, and relocated there in 2010 after a too-lengthy sojourn in Ottawa. I love Edmonton – the river valley, U of A, Whyte Avenue and Old Strathcona, the festivals, the northside, the southside, the malls, the downtown core, but most of all the people. It does feel more cosmopolitan than Calgary (though until Megatunes closed a couple years ago, it did have the best record store in western Canada). If I could speak more than passable French, however, I’d live in Montreal in a heartbeat.

    • Brine says:

      Ummm, Signal Hill is in St. John’s. To be sure, it’s a beautiful place in a beautiful city and province, but it ain’t in Halifax.

  24. Brammer says:

    Lot’s of great Cities in this great country, including Calgary. (their +15 is awesome).

    Harper was just ad libbing, is all. His best sound bites are off script.

  25. Kaplan says:

    It may not be a strategic blunder, but it IS another gift for Muclair, who used it for effect during his anti-Northern Gateway newser this afternoon.

  26. Herta says:

    You know, normally I would have given Mr. Harper a pass on this one – Calgary Stampede, home stomping grounds, etc.etc. but given the nasty politics of division, I feel a whole lot less Canadian, less cared for as a citizen. His statement, regardless of how impromptu, heartfelt or any other positive spin you want to put on it reinforces the divisions even more.

    I can’t help but wonder how the Atlantic provinces, Quebec and Ontario feel.

    • JamesHalifax says:

      Considering that all of those provinces and regions you mention are partially propped up by the folks living and working in Calgary (and Alberta in General) they should be a little more understanding.

      Though…..I’ve never known Quebec to be grateful about anything. They’re too busy feeling put upon about their entitlement culture.

      • Tim Sullivan says:

        We in “those provinces”, and quite frankly, elsewhere, are remiss in not thanking often enough or deeply enough or sincerely enough those in Alberta who put the oil in the ground.

  27. smelter rat says:

    He’s full of shit. Flin Flon is still #1

  28. Anne Peterson says:

    Edmonton is not blue collar or red necked. It is a really good city. Does anyone out there know that Edmonton is a city of foodies. It has more restaurants per capita than any other city in North America. It has wonderful little ethnic areas where you can eat your heart out. It, until recently had a Wednesday food section in the Journal to die for. It has the best ethnic festival in Canada and the best Jazz and blues and folk festivals too. It is a city of festivals. I love Edmonton.l

  29. Greg from Calgary says:

    Hey just wanted to say I enjoyed this thread. I like the positive comments about the various places in Canada and gave me some new things to consider. Take care all and glad to see so many people are enthusiastic about their homes.

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