Canada’s top Google search: Sponsoring a Syrian refugee is all the rage in Canada.

Last September, after the photograph of three-year-old Alan Kurdi’s body on that Turkish beach hit the world’s front pages, the top Google search term in Canada was, “How to sponsor a Syrian?”

The news media here, in the midst of covering a federal election campaign, jumped all over the Kurdi story. Not just because it was tragic, nor because of the Kurdi family’s Canadian connection through the toddler’s Vancouver-based aunt, but because the country, bitterly divided over the former Conservative government’s attitudes towards Muslims, suddenly didn’t recognise itself as the welcoming, multicultural nation it had long believed itself to be.

And so, on TV, online and in print, there were stories on how many refugees were expected, how few the Stephen Harper regime had approved, and how Canadians, individually, in groups and as part of community organisations, could sponsor Syrian refugee families.