Is Calgary becoming the new Toronto?

Prime Minister Stephen Harper at the annual Stampede parade in Calgary. REUTERS/Todd KorolPrime Minister Harper caused a bit of a stir Tuesday, dubbing Calgary — his adopted hometown — "the best city in the world."

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While it's unusual for a prime minster to publicly pick favourites, Harper isn't the first to comment on or write about Calgary's emergence as one of Canada's "best" cites.

Just look at these recent headlines by some of Canada's largest media outlets:

Five reasons why Calagary Tops Toronto, The Toronto Star

Calgary best city on the planet: Toronto Board of Trade, CBC News

The charms of Calgary and the gloom in Toronto, The Economist

- Move over Toronto, there's a new hotspot in town, The Globe and Mail

In terms of population and economy, Toronto still trumps Calgary.

Greater Toronto has 5.6 million people, or almost five times as many as Calgary. According to The Economist magazine, T.O. is still home to more corporate headquarters than any other Canadian city. Of the 20 biggest companies in Canada, ten are based in the Toronto area.

But Calgary has the momentum.

While Toronto is experiencing a decline in the number of headquarters, Calgary is experiencing a boom.

At the end of 2011, there were 123 head offices in Calgary, up from only 78 in 2000, which represents a growth rate of nearly 58 per cent over the past 11 years.

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Moreover, people are moving to Alberta — and especially Cowtown — in droves.

According to economist Todd Hirsch, over the last ten years, nearly 206,000 people from Ontario have moved to Alberta — about the size of three Red Deers.

In terms of net inter-provincial migration, 74,748 Canadians from other provinces moved to the City of Calgary.

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While dubbing Calgary the "best city in the world" is clearly subjective, recognizing Calgary's emergence and Toronto's decline isn't.

Other areas where Calgary beats Toronto:

- Unemployment rates:  Ontario: 7.7 per cent; Alberta: 4.6 per cent

-  Average commute time: Toronto: 33 minutes; Calgary: 26 minutes

- Median income for families: Toronto: $75,829; Calgary: $82,363

- Annual snowfall: Toronto:  133.1 cm Calgary: 126.7 cm

- 2011 NHL Team records: Toronto Maple Leafs: 80 points; Calgary Flames: 90 points

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