July 20, 2015 11:45 am
Updated: August 4, 2015 7:50 am

‘Is Stephen Harper a lump?’: What Google autocomplete tells us about Harper, Trudeau, Mulcair

What are Canadians Googling about Stephen Harper, Thomas Mulcair, and Justin Trudeau?

From left to right: Darryl Dyck, Sean Kilpatrick, Fred Chartrand / The Canadian Press

What do people want to know about Stephen Harper, Thomas Mulcair, and Justin Trudeau ahead of the 2015 federal election? Google has the answer.

Google Autocomplete, the popular feature of the world’s biggest search engine, attempts to finish your search based on what other people are searching. It offers a window into the collective curiosity of Canadians. And here’s what we’re interested in.

Stephen Harper


The first two suggestions – …is a tyrant or …is awesome – are clearly the searches of opposing sides of the political spectrum. And the final suggestion –Stephen Harper is the Prime Minister – can be answered, for now, with a simple ‘yes.’

But is Stephen Harper a lump? What? The third suggestion stems from The Lapine, a Canadian satirical news website, which published an article on Dec. 17, 2012 alleging President Barack Obama called Harper “a lump.”

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“As Obama and Media Relations Director Clive Leonard walked away from reporters, the Fox newsfeed clearly picked up the conversation.

LEONARD: “The Prime Minister is requesting a 15-minute meeting Mr. President.”
OBAMA: “What’s with that guy?”
LEONARD: “Sir?” (coughs)
OBAMA: “He’s shifty…he’s never standing where his voice seems to be coming from.”
LEONARD: “Ummm…”
OBAMA: “And he’s a large lump isn’t he? All pudge and hair.”

Google’s suggestions don’t get any more meaningful flipping the search around either. Asking “Is Stephen Harper…”  results in questions about Harper’s ethnicity, his net worth, his political intentions, and whether he is a relative to George Bush (which as far as we can tell, he’s not).

Thomas Mulcair


Canadians are slightly more concerned about Thomas Mulcair’s policy than they are Harper’s. While the top suggestion asks whether Mulcair is married (he is), the next two ponder his political ideology.

Is Thomas Mulcair a separatist? No. But he has drawn criticism for his vow to repeal the Clarity Act and move to a ‘50 per cent plus one’ policy when deciding how many votes Quebec separatists would need to win a referendum on the province’s role in Canada.

Is Thomas Mulcair a socialist? Though the NDP was traditionally Canada’s socialist party, its members voted in 2013 to rewrite its preamble, disappearing mentions of “democratic socialism,” “social ownership,” social planning,” as well as the idea that goods and services should be directed toward the people and “not to the making of profit.”

Now, the preamble makes only one reference to socialism, in a reference to the party’s “social democratic and democratic socialist traditions.”

Mulcair said at the time that the language was changed in order to modernize the party and reach “beyond our traditional base.”

Justin Trudeau


Like Harper, Canadians don’t seem to be as curious about Trudeau’s policies as they are Mulcair’s.

But it seems Conservative attack ads might be resonating in the minds of Canadian googlers.

The constant, and sometimes controversial ads, aimed at Trudeau typically end with the statement that Trudeau simply isn’t ready to be Canada’s next prime minster.

And it seems Canadians are wondering the same thing.

The other three suggestions are far less political; is he good (maybe?), is he married (definite yes), and is he a millionaire (yes).

But who’s the most popular?


Mashable looked into the Google autocomplete suggestions about the 2016 Presidential candidates (which inspired this story) and found Hillary Clinton was the most popular candidate according to Google searches.

Trudeau would seem, at first glance, to be the most popular of the three federal leaders: he’s younger than the other candidates, and the son of a former prime minister.

But when it comes to Google searches over the last 12 months, more people are looking for news about Stephen Harper.  Of the three leaders, Mulcair is the least-searched.

And unsurprisingly, searches for the three leaders are most popular in Ottawa.

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