Is the city you live in one of Canada's smartest?

St. John's and Fredericton are getting "smarter," but learning across most of the country has stalled: Maclean's

PLUS: Is the Bloc good for Canada?

TORONTO, May 20 /CNW/ - Common perceptions have it that Montreal is a mecca of art and sophistication and Saskatoon a cultural backwater; and that when it comes to arts and smarts, Edmonton beats out Calgary. But could it be, in both cases, that the exact opposite is true? For the answer, you'll have to turn to this week's issue of Maclean's magazine or visit http://www.macleans.ca/smartcities.

Results from the annual "Smartest Cities" rankings from the Canadian Council on Learning (CCL) have uncovered some startling results that could spark old rivalries and leave Canadians rethinking some long-held beliefs.

The CCL report shows that learning, almost everywhere in the country except for Victoria and the Maritimes, has flatlined, with potentially dire consequences to Canadian competitiveness and productivity. But why does it matter, anyway? Because research has consistently shown that the better educated a city's population is, the higher their incomes will be and the better their quality of life.

Check out how Canada's major cities stack up, and whether they're improving (Regina, for instance, has shot up from 17th to fifth in three years) or slipping down the list. While some of the results were to be expected (Victoria is a regular contender for the top spot), others may come as a surprise (Halifax and Ottawa beat Toronto). Those near the top of the CCL annual list do, however, have one thing in common: opportunities for lifelong learning.

To grade communities across the country, everything from university completion and museum attendance to participation in sports and volunteerism were evaluated.

More highlights

St. John's gets its mojo back: Once the target of dire economic predictions, Newfoundland's capital is gaining smarts with investments in the arts, sports, recreation and formal education. Montreal has a reputation for its many cultural opportunities, but like many cities in Quebec, residents tend not to use them.

Ouch: Six bottom spots - Laval, Longueuil, Montreal, Sherbrooke, Trois-Rivières and Saguenay - are all in Quebec.

- Saskatoon really is the "Paris of the Prairies."

ON MACLEANS.CA

How active are the people in your city? How skilled is your city's youth? How much do your fellow residents volunteer? Find these answers and more, plus compare your hometown with 4,500 other communities in canada, at http://www.macleans.ca/smartcities

Is the Bloc Good for Canada?

Giving separatists a voice in Ottawa may have kept the country together, writes Ottawa bureau chief John Geddes. Plus: Andrew Coyne on the decline of the Bloc and why trying to "fix" the Quebec issue just fans the flames of separatism.

About Maclean's:

Maclean's is Canada's only national weekly current affairs magazine. Maclean's enlightens, engages and entertains 2.4 million readers with strong investigative reporting and exclusive stories from leading journalists in the fields of international affairs, social issues, national politics, business and culture. Visit www.macleans.ca.

SOURCE Maclean's

For further information: For further information: Louise Leger, (416) 764-4125, louise.leger@rci.rogers.com

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