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Jack Knox: Victoria’s romance with those statistics we love

Good news, Victoria. Just in time for Valentine’s Day, we have regained the title of Canada’s Most Romantic City. The announcement came Wednesday from online retailer Amazon.

Good news, Victoria. Just in time for Valentine’s Day, we have regained the title of Canada’s Most Romantic City.

The announcement came Wednesday from online retailer, which based the results on its sales of romance novels and relationship books, romantic comedy DVDs and music CDs by the likes of Michael Bublé, Dean Martin, Barry White, Luther Vandross, Maxwell and Miguel. (What, no AC/DC?)

In fact, the capital, which had slipped to fifth place in 2012 after topping the 2011 results, led every category this year, the first time that has happened.

Victoria’s victory might come as a surprise to those who didn’t realize they were living in the Paris of the Pacific. Indeed, residents of Chicktoria, where the 2011 census showed 15,000 more unattached women than men, might argue that the stats reflect an attempt to fill a void.

Some might even argue that this void exists whether the woman is in a relationship or not, that their partners are more Don Knotts than Don Juan. This is nonsense, of course, since all Victoria men were created in God’s image, assuming that God buys an ironing board for Valentine’s Day, openly ogles the hot teachers at His kids’ school and barks out, “Who stepped on the duck?” after breaking wind. To those who detect a romantic vacuum, let us reassure you with those three words all women love to hear: “Honey, you’re overreacting.”

We must always be wary of conclusions drawn from statistics, though. Note that the Most Romantic City rankings were based solely on online sales. It only makes sense that Victorians would buy more online than other Canadians, who need not factor in a ferry ride when driving to Bellingham, or wherever, for their cross-border shopping.

So you could argue that the Amazon analysis says less about romance than Victorians’ willingness to bleed their local economy by shopping over the Internet. If you don’t believe that, try going to Best Buy. And don’t moan about it when you lose your job to a 14-year-old earning $400 a month for a 12-hour day in some Shenzhen factory/city. (By the way, did you know that during the 1849 gold rush, Californians would send their laundry as far as China and Hawaii for cleaning and pressing? It’s true. But I digress. A lot.)

Conclusions are only as good as the data on which they are based. Last year, a study published in the Canadian Journal of Economics found Victoria enjoys the best quality of life in the country. That sounds wonderful until you look at the measuring stick used to quantify the findings: how much people are willing to give up to live here. A mathematical formula involving house prices and wages showed Victorians will make sacrifices equal to 17 per cent of their income to live in the City of Gardens — a sunshine tax (rain tax?) that reduces us to eating the carpet underlay in homes priced 46 per cent above the national average.

That study contrasted with the opinion of MoneySense magazine, which ranked Victoria 35th out of 190 cities in its annual Canada’s Best Places to Live list last year, trailing the likes of Regina, Red Deer, Alta., and Swift Current, Sask. Apparently the MoneySense rankings were based on flatness.

Never mind, we like the ratings that tell us what we want to hear. In 2010, the Canadian Council on Learning named Victoria the Smartest City In Canada, based on such factors as education, culture and proximity to libraries and museums. In 2009, Next Generation Consulting of Wisconsin declared Victoria to be the best city in Canada for young professionals, based on earning potential, lifestyle cost and the social scene. (We didn’t know that falling asleep on the couch after Jeopardy qualified as a social scene.)

Yet a 2007 survey ranked us last out of 18 cities rated according to how content their residents were. Must have been that lingering taste of carpet underlay. Or maybe a data-entry error. How could anyone be unhappy in Canada’s Most Romantic City?