It's amazing how for every Canuck who complains about lack of respect, there's someone who suggests an inferiority complex.
While I agree that up until this Vuelta, Hesjedal had yet to achieve enough palmares to warrant significant attention outside of Canada. His MTB success had yet to translate entirely to the road. With a 2nd and a win, that should change somewhat.
I think ultimately, being Canadian does hurt his profile. He doesn't have a national media drawing attention to him in the same way that even American riders do. Look at the lack of coverage in Canada of his stage win. As far as I can tell, there were a grand total of two articles written, one by someone from his hometown of Victoria (or thereabouts), and one by the Canadian Press (mostly cut and pasted from the AP).
To me the problem is within Canada, not elsewhere. For example, Matt Keenan has been great in his Vuelta commentary, pointing out every time a Canuck has been at the front, and talking up Tuft, Meier, and Hesjedal at every opportunity. Meier got a lot of credit from Magnus Backstedt and Martin MacRossan (sp?) over on Cycling.TV for his domestique work in the first week of the Vuelta. P and P just don't matter anymore as they have gone so far down the Versus "rah-rah USA" road that they pay as little attention to European riders as Canadian (unless they warrant a comparison to the almighty Lance).
Our national media is still very provincial and unless it's hockey, they don't care (look at the attention paid to the Coyotes court proceedings and the Dany Heatley trade). I'm sure that's also a reflection of Canadian interest in general, outside of Quebec. I'm hoping the UCI races in Quebec next year will inspire more attention, but I'm not holding my breath.