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

Voices
Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond delivers his speech at the Scottish National Party (SNP) Spring Conference in Aberdeen, Scotland April 12, 2014.
voices
Arts & Entertainment
Jessica Pare as Megan Draper and Jon Hamm as the troubled, melancholy Don Draper
tvAnd six other questions we hope Mad Men series seven will answer
Life & Style
The new low cost smartphone of Motorola, 'Motorola Moto G', is displayed in Sao Paulo, Brazil on November 13, 2013. The smartphone, with dimensions 65.9mm W x 129.9mm H x 6.0 - 11.6mm D is equipped with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 with quad-core 1,2 GHz CPU, a 4.5-inch display and Android Operating System 4.3 and a suggested price of $ 179 USD.
techData assessing smartphones has revealed tens of millions of phones are at risk of being harvested
News
David Beckham is planning to build a stadium in Miami’s port for a new football team he will own
news... in his fight for a football stadium in Miami's port area
VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
News
weird newsMan live-photographs cracking of mysterious locked box on Reddit
Sport
Oliver Giroud kisses the Arsenal badge after giving the Gunners the lead
sportArsenal 3 West Ham 1: Two goals from the German striker and one piece of brilliance from Giroud puts the Gunners back above Everton
News
Plans to decriminalise non-payment of television licence fees would cost the BBC £500m according to estimates drawn up within the Corporation
people
News
weird news
Arts & Entertainment
Seeing red: James Dean with Sal Mineo in 'Rebel without a Cause'
filmAs 'Rebel without a Cause' is re-released, Geoffrey Macnab reveals how its star James Dean perfected his moody act
News
Obesity surgery in rats has been found to change the way the body processes alcohol
news
Arts & Entertainment
Heads up: Andy Scott's The Kelpies in Falkirk
artThe Kelpies are the latest addition to a growing army of giant sculptures. But naysayers are asking what a pair of gigantic horse heads tells us about Falkirk?
Life & Style
US Airways has been at the centre of a Twitter storm after it responded to customer complaints with a graphic sexual image
techUS Airways takes an interesting approach to customer service
Arts & Entertainment
Philip Arditti as Yossarian and Christopher Price as Milo Minderbinder in Northern Stage's 'Catch-22'
theatre
Arts & Entertainment
The Purple Wedding: Joffrey and Margaery Tyrell tie the knot
TV The second episode of the hit series featured a surprise for viewers
Life & Style
Back to nature: women with body issues have found naked yoga sessions therapeutic
lifeDoing poses in the altogether is already big in the US, and now it’s landed here – in mixed classes
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
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Move from Audit to Advisory

£45000 per annum + benefits: Pro-Recruitment Group: Move from Audit to Advisor...

Management Consultancy - Operational Research Analysts

£35000 - £50000 per annum + Bonus + Benefits: Pro-Recruitment Group: You must ...

Secondary Teaching Assistant

£60 - £70 per day: AER Teachers: THE SCHOOL: This outstanding Secondary School...

Application Support Analyst (MS SQL, java based webserver, batch scripting)

£36000 - £40000 Per Annum On call allowance.: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

Day In a Page

Homelessness: Why is the supported lodgings lifeline under threat?

Why is the supported lodgings lifeline under threat?

Zubairi Sentongo swapped poverty in Uganda for homelessness in Britain. But a YMCA scheme connected him with a couple offering warmth and shelter
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: When the world’s biggest shed took over Regent’s Park

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

When the world’s biggest shed took over Regent’s Park
The pain of IVF

The pain of IVF

As an Italian woman vows to keep the babies from someone else’s eggs, Julian Baggini ponders how the reality of childbirth is often messier than the natural ideal
Supersize art

Is big better? Britain's latest super-sized art

The Kelpies are the latest addition to a growing army of giant sculptures. But naysayers are asking what a pair of gigantic horse heads tells us about Falkirk?
James Dean: Back on the big screen

James Dean: Back on the big screen

As 'Rebel without a Cause' is re-released, Geoffrey Macnab reveals how its star perfected his moody act
Catch-22: How the cult classic was adapted for the stage

How a cult classic was adapted for the stage

More than half a century after it was published 'Catch-22' will make its British stage debut next week
10 best activity books for children

10 best activity books for children

Keep little ones busy this bank holiday with one of these creative, educational and fun books
Arsenal 3 West Ham United 1: Five things we learnt from the battle between the London sides

Five things we learnt from Arsenal's win over West Ham

Arsenal still in driving seat for Champions League spot and Carroll can make late charge into England’s World Cup squad
Copa del Rey final: Barcelona are paying for their complacency and not even victory over Real Madrid will put things right

Pete Jenson on the Copa del Rey final

Barcelona are paying for their complacency and not even victory over Real Madrid will put things right
Rafa to reign? Ten issues clay courts will serve up this season

Rafa to reign? Ten issues clay courts will serve up this season

With the tennis circus now rolling on to the slowest surface, Paul Newman highlights who'll be making the headlines – and why
Exclusive: NHS faces financial disaster in 2015 as politicians urged to find radical solution

NHS faces financial disaster in 2015

Politicians urged to find radical solution
Ukraine crisis: How spontaneous are the pro-Russian protests breaking out in Ukraine’s east?

Ukraine crisis

How spontaneous are the pro-Russian protests breaking out in Ukraine’s east?
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: The first execution at the Tower of London for 167 years

The first execution at the Tower of London for 167 years

A history of the First World War in 100 moments
Fires could turn Amazon rainforest into a desert as human activity and climate change threaten ‘lungs of the world’, says study

New threat to the Amazon rainforest:

Fires that scorch the ‘lungs of the Earth’
Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester City: And the winner of this season’s Premier League title will be...

Who’s in box seat now? The winner of the title will be ...

Who is in best shape to take the Premier League prize?