Dear Canadians

You're wealthy and liberal, full of cosmopolitan splendour, big skies - and talent. So why do so many of your sons and daughters choose exile?

You've had your 10 minutes of fame, the disco ball of world media attention has cast its shimmering light over your vastness for a couple of days, and now it's over. We were promised, in the heady few days when Canada was promoted on Newsnight ahead of Bosnia, ahead of Rosemary West, ahead of John Major discussing economic monetary union with Jacques Chirac, that there would be cataclysm, financial disaster, an end to the Commonwealth as we know it. But, typically of you and your slow, steady, dependable country, nothing has changed. Quebec remains attached; its uppity citizens have been silenced (at least for 15 years until the next referendum). You can go back to sleep now.

That is not to say that we have not enjoyed learning about you recently. For a start, many of us here in Britain used to confuse Quebec with the national airline of Australia. Now we discover Quebec is a vast region full of people speaking such bad French that even the Queen could get by in it. We have also learnt the name of your Prime Minister. It might have taken a prank by a DJ to do it, but it is a bit of knowledge that might come in useful when doing those quizzes of the year in the Boxing Day papers. That was a prank, incidentally, which disproved the old theory that Canadians lack a sense of fun. It's a shame, though, that having actually pulled off the subterfuge and got the Queen on the line, the DJ in question didn't manage to say anything funny. But still, he gained enough prominence by his pluck to guarantee him the thing Canadians seem to value above everything else: a job south of the border.

For this is the thing we have really learnt about you. Unlike the old gag about Belgians, it is very easy to name 10 famous Canadians. How about: Pamela Anderson, JK Galbraith, Mordecai Richler, Joni Mitchell, Michael J Fox, kd lang, Conrad Black, Leonard Cohen, Donald Sutherland and Margaret Atwood. Not to mention Linda Evangelista, Dan Aykroyd, Robertson Davies, David Cronenberg, the late John Candy, Leslie Nielsen, Mike McShane and that bloke with the funny name who plays for Stoke City and is married to Karren Brady, managing director of Birmingham City. In short, for a sparsely populated nation, the number of your famous sons and daughters is disproportionate. But what do all these Canuck talents have in common? None of them - give or take the odd ice-hockey player - has found fame in Canada.

You are the country of the institutionalised brain-drain, the nation whose biggest export is talent. Such is the diaspora that when Radio 4's Today programme sought an opinion on the referendum on the Quebec issue yesterday morning, it did not have far to look to find a sharp Canadian: Michael Ignatieff was on hand. Slightly spoilt the effect, though, when he prefaced his analysis with the warning that he might not be the best person to pass judgement on the present Canadian political climate since he left the country 20 years ago.

Why is it that to get on in life your clever folk appear to have to leave? Why don't the young of your nation dream of one day making it in Montreal? After all, you are wealthy, liberal, kind to strangers, welcoming to refugees, full of cosmopolitan splendour and big skies. Maybe you don't try hard enough to sell yourselves. Perhaps a worldwide campaign to attract back famous exiles would be appropriate. Why not start by trumpeting the piece of information that would encourage a few Brit-based Canucks westwards? At your last general election, the Conservative Party was not so much trounced as voted into oblivion. How much more good news does one country need?

JIM WHITE

News
A 1930 image of the Karl Albrecht Spiritousen and Lebensmittel shop, Essen. The shop was opened by Karl and Theo Albrecht’s mother; the brothers later founded Aldi
people
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmA cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Arts and Entertainment
Flora Spencer-Longhurst as Lavinia, William Houston as Titus Andronicus and Dyfan Dwyfor as Lucius
theatreThe Shakespeare play that proved too much for more than 100 people
News
exclusivePunk icon Viv Albertine on Sid Vicious, complacent white men, and why free love led to rape
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
Stir crazy: Noel Fielding in 'Luxury Comedy 2: Tales from Painted Hawaii'
comedyAs ‘Luxury Comedy’ returns, Noel Fielding on why mainstream success scares him and what the future holds for 'The Boosh'
Life and Style
Flow chart: Karl Landsteiner discovered blood types in 1900, yet scientists have still not come up with an explanation for their existence
lifeAll of us have one. Yet even now, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Arts and Entertainment
'Weird Al' Yankovic, or Alfred Matthew, at the 2014 Los Angeles Film Festival Screening of
musicHis latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do our experts think he’s missed out?
Sport
New Real Madrid signing James Rodríguez with club president Florentino Perez
sportColombian World Cup star completes £63m move to Spain
Travel
Hotel Tour d’Auvergne in Paris launches pay-what-you-want
travelIt seems fraught with financial risk, but the policy has its benefits
Arts and Entertainment
booksThe best children's books for this summer
Life and Style
News to me: family events were recorded in the personal columns
techFamily events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped that
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Sustainability Manager

Competitive: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: Scheme Manager (BREEAM)...

Graduate Sustainability Professional

Flexible, depending on experience: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: T...

Programme Director - Conduct Risk - London

£850 - £950 per day: Orgtel: Programme Director - Conduct Risk - Banking - £85...

Project Coordinator/Order Entry, SC Clear

£100 - £110 per day: Orgtel: Project Coordinator/Order Entry Hampshire

Day In a Page

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn