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Harper, Trudeau or Ford: Who did Canadians Google most?

Every year, Google releases its Zeitgeist report, the tally of which search terms inquisitive Canadians typed in most. For the first time, the site compiled a list of the top 10 federal politicians Canadians searched for the most. The list provides insight into which politicians Canadians are seeking more information about, especially when combined with information on timing, geography and related search terms. Google provides only relative measures of search traffic and not absolute numbers.

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10: Elizabeth May – Green Party Leader Elizabeth May just squeezed into the list in 2012, even though her Google search volume is down over previous years. Canadians sought the most information about her in October, 2008, when she first burst on to the federal scene in a debate with the other party leaders, and May, 2011, when she finally won a seat in the House of Commons. Not surprisingly, most of her searches originated in B.C., especially around Victoria, near where she holds her seat.


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9: John Baird – Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird had a steady year, with a spike in search traffic near the end of November, when he spoke at the United Nations to dissuade other countries from giving Palestinians upgraded UN status.


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8: Marc Garneau – Montreal MP Marc Garneau saw a big spike in interest in November when he launched his bid for the federal Liberal leadership. But the former astronaut's most common related search term – the other words Canadians are likely to type in along with his name – is “marc garneau collegiate,” the name of a Toronto high school. The secondary school seems to be responsible for a minor spike in interest in September, for instance.


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7: Jason Kenney – Cabinet ministers that popped up on Canada's most-Googled list, unfortunately, seem to have gotten there for all the wrong reasons. Immigration Minister Jason Kenney saw two peaks of search traffic this year: in June, when he swore at Alberta's deputy premier in an email accidentally sent to a wider audience, and in September, when he controversially supported a Commons motion on reproductive rights.


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6: Bob Rae – In the early part of 2012 the official opposition NDP didn't yet have a permanent leader and interim Liberal leader Bob Rae was doing well in search volume. In the summer, Mr. Rae confirmed he wouldn't run for the permanent leadership – and after a big spike, Canadians stopped looking for him.


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5: Peter MacKay – Defence Minister Peter MacKay made it on to the list of most-searched for one reason: his wife. Canadians flocked to Google to find out more information about his wedding to former beauty queen Nazanin Afshin-Jam, using such search terms as “peter mackay nazanin,” “peter mackay wife,” and “peter mackay wedding.” After the January ceremony, they stopped searching for him.


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4: Thomas Mulcair – NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair got most of his searches this year when he won the leadership contest in March. Not surprisingly, most of the Googling has originated from his home province of Quebec. Mr. Mulcair has been attempting to go by two names this year: Thomas in French and Tom in English. Canadians on Google, apparently, haven't noticed. Almost all the searches have been for Thomas and rarely for Tom.


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3: Vic Toews – The most Googled cabinet minister on the list, Public Safety Minister Vic Toews got the attention of searching Canadians in February when he introduced a bill to increase the state's powers of Internet surveillance. In response, a then-anonymous user of Twitter started updating with details of Mr. Toews' divorce filings. Related search terms for the minister are “divorce,” “twitter,” and “anonymous.” This was of particular interest to his native Manitoba.


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2: Justin Trudeau – Two events fuelled Liberal MP Justin Trudeau's high search ranking: his boxing match with Conservative Senator Patrick Brazeau and when he jumped into the Liberal leadership race in October.

Dave Chan/Dave Chan

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1: Stephen Harper – The Prime Minister was the most popular federal Canadian politician to be searched in 2012, with 50 per cent higher volume of searches than second place. Search volume was fairly steady all year and, indeed, fairly steady across provinces – with the notable exception of Quebec.


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Bonus: Rob Ford – Stephen Harper was the most searched federal politician – but not the most searched politician of all. That crown goes to Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, who has a knack for attracting headlines. The two were neck-and-neck in the search ranking for most of the year, until a November ruling in which a judge said Mr. Ford should be removed from office. Then the controversy – and Googling – took off.

Kevin Van Paassen/The Globe and Mail

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