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The 2014 Maclean’s Power List: The falling and the lost

Had it. Lost it. Six once-powerful Canadians represent cautionary tales for those on this year’s Power List


 

Losing power

Had it. Lost it. Can’t quite get it. These four Canadians offer cautionary tales to those on this year’s list. By Paul Wells.

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1. Dean Del Mastro

Once, the former Peterborough MP was the parliamentary secretary to the Prime Minister. His clout was extremely modest, if we’re being honest, but what an excellent title. Now he’s lost his seat after being found guilty of election law infractions.

2. Mario Beaulieu

The new Bloc Québécois leader promised to bring edge back to a party he called too complacent. Now he’s lost half his tiny caucus. BQ fundraising has fallen off a cliff. He’s the best thing for federalism since Stéphane Dion.

3. Danielle Smith

The Wildrose party leader may even be the next premier of Alberta, but, for now, she surely ranks near the top for lost momentum in 2014. You’d think it would be possible to outflank Jim Prentice on the right. Smith may not even survive as Wildrose leader long enough to find out.

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4. Olivia Chow

One day her photo will run in political dictionaries under Front-runner Syndrome. Years of public service, sky-high positives, a rainbow coalition supporting her Toronto mayoralty campaign, an early polling lead any candidate would dream of. Buh-bye. 

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First fame. Then infamy.

Two people who made it onto last year’s list—a deposed premier and a disgraced cultural mascot—show just how far the powerful can fall. By Jonathon Gatehouse.

Perhaps we mistook hubris for power. They certainly did.

A year ago, Alberta’s then-premier Alison Redford occupied the No. 31 spot on the Maclean’s Power List. And CBC Radio host Jian Ghomeshi sat at No. 42. It seemed like a good idea at the time.

Redford, who led her Progressive Conservatives to a landslide victory in the spring of 2012, becoming the province’s first female premier, was riding high. She and B.C. counterpart Christy Clark were making progress toward a deal on the Northern Gateway pipeline to the West Coast. And her tireless efforts to sell Americans on the merits of the Keystone XL link from the oil sands to refineries on the Gulf of Mexico were winning an audience.

Related reading: Alison Redford’s Red Wedding

Ghomeshi, meanwhile, was riding a wave of cross-border adulation, with a bestselling memoir, a radio show that went all across Canada and was heard in 160 U.S. markets, and as a near ubiquitous presence at awards shows and ceremonies; in short, our cultural mascot.

Redford’s fall began with an official trip in December 2013 to attend to the state funeral of Nelson Mandela, a statesman with whom she had worked closely in her past life as a constitutional lawyer. But a $45,000 bill, which included a $10,000 private charter flight home, raised eyebrows. And the revelations that followed—of her lavish plans for a penthouse official residence, a habit of bringing her daughter and her friends along on business trips on the taxpayer dime, and generally treating the public purse like it was her own—led to her resignation as premier last March, and now an RCMP investigation.

Ghomeshi’s descent was even more dizzying. After media outlets began to delve into his personal life, and allegations that he enjoys hitting women in the bedroom, the CBC host was suspended from his job, then summarily fired by the network. Within the course of just a few days, he lost a gig hosting the Giller prize, and was publicly dumped by his publisher, PR firm, the crisis management team he hired, and his manager of more than 25 years. Basically anyone who had ever known him was either running for cover or sounding off to reporters, repudiating his actions and his character.

Related reading: How Jian Ghomeshi got away with it

Two cautionary tales for the 50 high rollers on this year’s Power List.

Fame is indeed fleeting. And infamy lasts a whole lot longer.


 

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