Harper on hot seat for Calgary comments
Published Wednesday, July 11, 2012 4:43PM MDT
Last Updated Wednesday, July 11, 2012 6:43PM MDT
Prime Minister Stephen Harper had no problem playing favourites during his weekend trip to his hometown and that has triggered a flurry of reactions on all sides of the political spectrum.
Harper was in Calgary to kick off the Stampede’s Centennial and appeared to go off script, referring to his adopted hometown as superior to all others when speaking about the Stampede's growth over the past 100 years.
"I think that if the founders could be here today and see the great city, see what has built up around this event, they would be amazed,” said Harper. “They would be amazed to see that their Stampede has been part of giving birth to the greatest city in the greatest country in the world.”
The prime minister was born in Toronto, but moved to Calgary in his 20s. He currently represents the riding of Calgary Southwest.
Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson -- whose city residents often pride themselves on permanently owning the title Harper bestowed on Calgary -- jokingly commented that Harper must have slipped up, saying “Calgary” when he meant to say “Vancouver.”
In Calgary, locals share his sentiments.
“I was originally from Saskatchewan, but Calgary is the best, we got the Stampede, we got warm weather,” said one man.
“Calgary is the best city in Canada but I think he’s got to watch his toes,” said another.
Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi had no problem giving props to his city.
“Where else do you get neighbours waking up at 4;30 in the morning to mix pancake batter so their neighbours and strangers they have never met can get a free breakfast? That's just a little tiny part of the community spirit that makes Calgary so real,” said mayor Nenshi.
Despite the possible hurt feelings, political watchers say the prime minister has a right to give recognition to whatever city is hosting him.
“It's similar to a rock band going on tour where Calgary’s got the greatest fans in the world, then Edmonton has got the greatest fans in the world, then Vancouver. It's the same line just insert city name here,” said Duane Bratt from MRU.
Harper's offhand comment also provoked a mixed response on Twitter.
Many users suggested the comment was being blown out of proportion, and Harper was simply giving some love to his local supporters, as any elected MP does during the summer barbecue season.
Predictably, others used the opportunity to take aim at Harper in tongue-in-cheek commentary on the popular social media service.