Canada’s Top Google Searches of 2011

If there’s anything Google’s annual Zeitgeist list tells us about what Canadians like in their news, it’s that we’re concerned about world affairs, hockey riots grab our attention and, despite antibiotics and plenty of bed rest, we just can’t shake that pesky “Bieber fever” (which has led to an alarming case of “Gomez gout,” which, we realize, doesn’t sound as catchy as “Bieber fever”).

The list, compiled annually by Google, illustrates the top 10 fastest rising news searches by country and globally. Topping Canada’s list is Japan, a country that suffered the crushing effects of a tsunami last March, leading to a nuclear scare that carried across the ocean. In this respect we don’t differ much from the global list, which sees Fukushima – the site of the nuclear disaster – in the No. 1 spot.

The similarities essentially end there, however. While globally much of the focus was on iPhones, international scandal and an Italian murder mystery, Canadians searched for domestic issues, foreign crises and, apparently, Justin Bieber.

The Canadian list has the Vancouver Canucks in the No. 2 spot, thanks to their outstanding playoff run and subsequent loss in the Stanley Cup finals to the Boston Bruins, sparking the looting and riots that followed.

No. 3 is Libya, understandable thanks to the civilian uprising and NATO-assisted overthrow of dictator Muammar Gaddafi. No. 4, however, either proves that our nation wholly loves Justin Bieber or that Canadian tweens spend way too much time online. No. 7 helps support the latter theory as Bieber squeeze Selena Gomez makes an appearance.

No. 5 is the Blue Jays, and again there are two theories as to why. The first, and most likely, is that star player Jose Bautista had another stellar, award-winning year. A less likely, though equally valid, theory is that “Blue Jays” was searched with the phrase “Rogers lackluster ownership of” preceding it.

No. 6 on the list is Iran, showing that while we all get a kick out of the occasional insane ramblings of a politician (see: Republican candidate debates), when that person proves to be a bigoted, hateful and potentially dangerous threat, we stand up and take notice.

Selena Gomez at No. 7 is followed by Jack Layton, a beloved political figure who passed away after leading the federal NDP party to official opposition status for the first time in Canadian history.  Evidently, that still carries slightly less cache than being romantically linked to Justin Bieber. No. 9 on our list is Egypt, mirroring Libya with its ties to the Arab Spring, and ousting of an oppressive leader followed by a period of unrest.

Rounding out the list is another head of state who has a penchant for creating political unrest, but whose citizens are too polite to overthrow him so instead offered him more power. Stephen Harper, Canada’s ninth-longest serving prime minister, was handed a majority government by Canadians in this year’s election – or at least those who bothered to vote.

-Mike Crisolago