0

The most powerful people in Canadian arts and media

Filtering out our 2014 Power List to rank the top 13 from the world of arts and media


 
Canadian rapper Drake performs at the fifth annual OVO Fest in Toronto this summer. (Jack Boland/Toronto Sun/QMI Agency)

Canadian rapper Drake performs at the fifth annual OVO Fest in Toronto this summer. (Jack Boland/Toronto Sun/QMI Agency)

The 50 names on our 2014 Power List were released last week—naming the most powerful people in Canada. It’s a diverse list we put together with complete subjectivity, and finding commonalities among the group of 50 can make it hard to debate the list. So to help that debate along, we’ve cut the list along three lines. Here, we filter out and rank the 13 names from the arts and media industries. Do you agree with our list? Is there someone who deserves an honourary mention? We invite you to write in our comments, tweet at us, or join us on Facebook to offer your own powerful case for a different list.

POWER50_ICONS__SOLO

This symbol indicates our weighting of the individual’s institutional standing. No surprise that the newly named head of Canada’s biggest bank ranks the maximum five. On the other hand, while we detect serious power in the creative clout of a certain movie director, he doesn’t head a studio or produce his own films, so we award him only a single blue pillar icon.

POWER50_ICONS__SOLO2

This tells you how much timing mattered in our choice of a given individual, based on the way things look to us in late 2014. Power expresses itself, after all, through the tasks of the moment. You won’t have to read very far into our list to see that we recognize the pressing priority of the Ebola challenge: Five clocks to a doctor near the centre of the crisis. The same principle works in reverse: Names from sports that made our 2013 list because we were looking ahead to the 2014 Winter Olympics in Russia have fallen off entirely.

POWER50_ICONS__SOLO3

The power that flows from great ideas is perhaps the most appealing kind. So we enjoy awarding multiple light bulbs to, as you’ll see, a university resident with new notions about linking academia to the community, or a young doc with new ways of thinking about the health of old folks.

Maclean’s 2014 Power List: The most powerful in arts and media

#13: Christina Jennings (#50 on our Power List)
Mystery export

POWER50_ICONS_INST_
POWER50_ICONS__TEMP_
POWER50_ICONS__IDEAS_3

Rising Stars 2012: CFC BBQ - 2012 Toronto International Film Festival

A former town planner, Christina Jennings started the Toronto-based production company Shaftesbury in 1987, which creates and distributes original programming. But her biggest success has come recently with Murdoch Mysteries, a detective series set in Toronto at the turn of the 20th century. Originally aired on City TV and now on the CBC, it broadcast its 100th episode this year, and has been aggressively sold to international markets: “It’s amazing to create a Canadian show that’s a hit in prime time; that’s a hit in France, dubbed; that’s a hit in England,” Jennings says. It helps that the show fills a broadcasting niche as the kind of non-serialized crime drama most U.S. networks don’t make anymore: “You can miss a few episodes and it doesn’t matter,” Jennings explains. “You can have season 2 back-to-back with season 8 and it doesn’t make a difference.” — Jaime J. Weinman

Back to top

#12. Yannick Nezet-Seguin (#49 on our Power List)
And then he lifts the baton

POWER50_ICONS_INST_
POWER50_ICONS__TEMP_
POWER50_ICONS__IDEAS_4

YANNICK NEZET-SEQUIN. CREDIT Marco Borggreve/YANNICK NEZET-SEQUIN

The tiny, perfect, Montreal-born music director of his hometown’s Orchestre Métropolitain turns 40 in the spring. He still looks younger than that—until he lifts a baton and orchestras thunder in response. In his third season as music director of the mighty Philadelphia Orchestra, he’s turning around its financial fortunes and revitalizing its artistic mission. He records whatever he wants—and that’s a lot—for Deutsche Grammophon, Europe’s greatest record label. He showed political clout back home when he complained about the new Quebec government’s plans to close small-town music conservatories; Philippe Couillard abandoned the plan within days. What’s next? The legendary Berlin Philharmonic will name a new music director in May. “Yannick,” as he’s known, is on everyone’s lips as a top candidate. — Paul Wells

Back to top

#11. Jeremy Charles (#48 on our Power List)
Foodie for thought

POWER50_ICONS_INST_
POWER50_ICONS__TEMP_2
POWER50_ICONS__IDEAS_4

TRAVEL Log NL Foodies 20121126

It is his penchant for collecting local Newfoundland ingredients and turning them into a fine dining experience that has transformed Jeremy Charles into one of Canada’s most celebrated chefs. A meal from the 37-year-old head chef at Raymonds restaurant in St. John’s might feature anything from moose ravioli to cod sounds (the fish’s bladder) to Acadian sturgeon caviar. Haute cuisine doesn’t have a low price tag. The seven-course tasting menu costs $125, before factoring in any wine.

Charles left the East Coast at 19 and spent the next decade mastering his skills at culinary schools in Chicago and Montreal. Not long after his return home, Charles opened Raymonds in 2011, which enRoute magazine ranked at No.1 for “best new restaurant” in the country; several consider it simply one of Canada’s best restaurants of any vintage Charles has created a devoted following of foodies and fellow chefs alike, who are all lured to taste what Newfoundland and Labrador has to offer. — Aaron Hutchins
Back to top

#10. Arthur Fogel (#45 on our Power List)
Live and in concert

POWER50_ICONS_INST_
POWER50_ICONS__TEMP_2
POWER50_ICONS__IDEAS_2

Arthur Fogel, Canadian music promoterArthur Fogel, Canadian music promoter

As an organizer of music tours for everyone from the Rolling Stones to Lady Gaga, this former drummer has been a force in the music business since the 1980s. But when rock stars made most of their money from record sales, Arthur Fogel’s focus on live entertainment was, as he put it to the Independent newspaper, “at the bottom of the food chain.” Now recorded music has flatlined, and touring has become more important, turning the 60-year-old Fogel, head of global touring for Live Nation, into a celebrity. A documentary film featured Bono calling him “the most important person in live music,” and his hometown paper, the Ottawa Citizen, called 2014 his “year of living famously.” Of course, that attention also brings more negative rumours; when Lady Gaga’s 2014 tour was reported to have lost $30 million, Fogel responded that “just a complete fool would say something like that.” Fame comes at a price. — Jaime J. Weinman

Back to top

#9. Drake (#40 on our Power List)
From crown prince to kingmaker

POWER50_ICONS_INST_
POWER50_ICONS__TEMP_2
POWER50_ICONS__IDEAS_3

Drake, OVO Fest, Toronto. August 01, 2012

If we’re to judge Aubrey Drake Graham by the metric Canadians too often use to assess our homegrown talents—how famous are they in the U.S.?—there’s no denying the 28-year-old’s power, with his claim to the crown of the American-born rap game. He’s bankable in a fraught music industry, besting the Beatles in Billboard-charting singles in just five years. As the Toronto Raptors’ global ambassador, his brand has become infused with a franchise in well-timed ascendance. And he’s doing it in an essentially Canadian way—he owns the vulnerable image he’s curated, turning jokes about lint-rolling his pants at a basketball game and his average athletic prowess into marketing campaigns and self-deprecating Instagram posts. But perhaps the truest tell of his influence is that he’d rather be a hip-hop kingmaker than a mere crown prince: his label OVO Sound is cranking out acolytes in his hazy R&B-rap image, from PartyNextDoor to iLoveMakonnen. “How the game turn into the Drake show?” he rapped on the triumphal throwaway track Draft Day. How indeed. — Adrian Lee

Back to top

8. George Stroumboulopoulos (#38 on our Power List)
A vegan’s power play

POWER50_ICONS_INST_
POWER50_ICONS__TEMP_4
POWER50_ICONS__IDEAS_2

Hockey_Strombo_feature

He’s gone from being Canada’s boyfriend to the nation’s emcee. As the face of Rogers’ new 12-year, $5.2-billion investment in the NHL, “Strombo”—his nickname—has been handed perhaps the most culturally significant perch in the country. Each weekend, the 42-year-old vegan now guides the collective consciousness as the host of Hockey Night in Canada—a 62-year Saturday tradition—and as the main studio anchor for Sunday’s Hometown Hockey. With a resumé that includes stints in alternative radio and as a Much Music VJ, a 10-year run as the host of his own CBC television talk show and a couple of unsuccessful attempts to break into the U.S. market, Stroumboulopoulos was not an obvious choice. But early in his tenure, he already seems at ease, infusing the broadcasts with his hipster tastes and a genuine passion for the game. “No one out there can out sports-fan me,” he told Maclean’s shortly after he was hired. How much pull does this skinny-jeans aficionado now enjoy? His feature guest on the season opening broadcast was none other than Stephen Harper. The prime minister, another dark-horse hockey dweeb, took him on a tour of his “jersey room” (actually a closet) at 24 Sussex and showed off his prized possession, a Leafs sweater autographed by all the surviving members of the 1967 Cup-winning team. Interesting TV, with some bonus high-powered trolling: Strombo, a noted Habs partisan, bleeds blue, blanc et rouge. — Jonathon Gatehouse

Back to top

#7. Michael Cooke (#37 on our Power List)
Man on a mission

POWER50_ICONS_INST_2
POWER50_ICONS__TEMP_5
POWER50_ICONS__IDEAS_2

MAC47_POWER_LIST89_THUMB

In the five years since he was hired as editor of the Toronto Star, Michael Cooke has overhauled the once-plodding daily and turned it into a relentless powerhouse that sets the bar for investigative reporting in Canada. From dirty doctors to Rob Ford’s crack smoking to Jian Ghomeshi’s alleged sex assaults, Cooke’s mission to blow the lid off corruption and deception has the country taking note. His newspaper wins prestigious journalism awards—this year, the Micheners—but more important, it pushes the national agenda on issues of public policy and abuse of power. Born and raised in a small village in Lancashire, England, he took on the local fox hunt in his first gig as 17-year-old cub reporter, setting the tone for the rest of his career. After immigrating to Canada in 1974, he had stints at papers across the country before moving south of the border to the Chicago Sun-Times and New York Daily News. His investigative team is the envy of Canadian journalists, and word is he’s looking to expand its reach to Ottawa. Parliament Hill, you’ve been warned. — Rachel Browne

Back to top

#6: Lisa LaFlamme (#34 on our Power List)
Anchor-in-chief

POWER50_ICONS_INST_3
POWER50_ICONS__TEMP_2
POWER50_ICONS__IDEAS_

Lisa LaFlamme with her award for best National News Anchor at the Canadian Screen Awards in Toronto.

Lisa LaFlamme, 50, has been the face and voice of CTV National News, Canada’s most watched news show—with more than one million viewers per night—since she succeeded Lloyd Robertson as chief anchor in 2011. She’s the second woman to anchor a weeknight national newscast in Canada, this year winning the RTDNA award for best newscast for the third year in a row. LaFlamme, originally from Kitchener, Ont., spent 20 years as a foreign correspondent, never saying no to an assignment. She has reported from places such as war-torn Afghanistan—where in 2008, she was shot at by Taliban fighters—and Iraq, where she caught a parasite that ravaged almost half of one kidney. LaFlamme told a magazine at the University of Ottawa, her alma mater, her secret to success: “Keep your head down, work hard, don’t expect anything, don’t get too big for your boots.” — Rachel Browne

Back to top

#5. Marianne McKenna (#25 on our Power List)
Building harmony

POWER50_ICONS_INST_2
POWER50_ICONS__TEMP_2
POWER50_ICONS__IDEAS_5

TORONTO, ONTARIO, CANADA - November 13, 2014:   ( Philip Cheung for Macleans )

In the era of “starchitects”—whose sculptural showpieces often stand defiantly apart from what’s around them—her buildings can seem understated. Marianne McKenna’s celebrated Royal Conservatory Telus Centre for Performance and Learning in Toronto, for instance, elegantly combines heritage buildings and warm new spaces. It’s pure harmony. Born in Montreal, McKenna is a founding partner of architecture firm KPMB. “We’ve been embraced as a team,” she has said of the close-knit Toronto office’s influence. KPMB’s landmarks in their home city include the recent expansion of University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management, which McKenna directed. But her reach is international. Current McKenna ventures include the Massachusetts Institute for Technology’s Music and Theater Arts Project in Walker Memorial Hall and an expansion of Orchestra Hall in Minneapolis. — John Geddes

Back to top

#4. Naomi Klein (#21 on our Power List)
She changes everything

POWER50_ICONS_INST_
POWER50_ICONS__TEMP_4
POWER50_ICONS__IDEAS_4

Author Naomi Klein arrives for the Scotiabank Giller Prize awards gala in Toronto

Naomi Klein, 44, is one of the most internationally celebrated Canadians alive, and when it comes to influence based entirely upon persuasion—as opposed to the inherent political or economic power of a position held—she has few peers in this country. Klein is impeccably connected to counterculture royalty. The daughter of one documentary filmmaker—Bonnie Sherr Klein, famous for her anti-pornography movie Not a Love Story—Klein is married to another, Avi Lewis, son of journalist Michele Landsberg and former Ontario NDP leader and Canadian ambassador to the UN, Stephen Lewis. But her reach arguably exceeds even her father-in-law’s. From No Logo (2000) to This Changes Everything (2014), Klein’s bestselling and award-winning critiques of globalized capitalism and climate change—translated into dozens of languages—have been touchstones for the political left, not only in Canada but worldwide, and hailed as incisive manifestos for socio-economic change. — Brian Bethune

Back to top

#3. Jean-Marc Vallée (#19 on our Power List)
You could be my shining star

POWER50_ICONS_INST_
POWER50_ICONS__TEMP_3
POWER50_ICONS__IDEAS_4

2014 Toronto International Film Festival - Guess Portrait Studio - Day 5

There aren’t a lot of directors in Hollywood with a reputation for turning around the careers of fading stars, but this 51-year-old Montreal native may be one of them. His second U.S. film, The Dallas Buyers Club, completed Matthew McConaughey’s transformation from affable lightweight into Oscar-winning drama star; before that, the period film The Young Victoria helped Emily Blunt erase the stigma of The Jane Austen Book Club. Now Vallée is back with the survival drama Wild, where Reese Witherspoon—who has mostly starred in failed romantic comedies since her 2006 Academy Award—stars as a woman hiking across the U.S. on a voyage of self-discovery and R-rated language. With his reputation for getting the best performances out of actors whose depths haven’t been explored, Vallée may be on the way to becoming a first-choice director: Witherspoon, who owned the rights to Wild’s source material, personally chose him over more famous names. — Jaime J. Weinman

Back to top

#2: Kirstine Stewart (#15 on our Power List)
A little bird told us

POWER50_ICONS_INST_2
POWER50_ICONS__TEMP_2
POWER50_ICONS__IDEAS_3

GNM

Usually, 32,000 Twitter followers don’t scream “power,” especially when you compare those numbers to the likes of Drake’s 17.9 million followers or even Toronto’s Drake Hotel (no relation to the rap star), which has 57,000. But Kirstine Stewart’s influence doesn’t come from the updates in her Twitter stream. It is her role as Twitter’s VP of North American media, where she is developing partnerships for the social media network among the TV, sports and music industries, that makes her one of Canada’s most high-profile businesspeople. Once the rising star of the television world, Stewart was behind some of the CBC’s best original shows, including Dragons’ Den, Republic of Doyle and Battle of the Blades. By 2011, she was appointed executive vice-president of CBC’s English-language services and, shortly thereafter, she married Zaib Shaikh, the star of Little Mosque on the Prairie. Then came a tweet from Adam Bain, Twitter’s president of global revenue, announcing Stewart as the new head of Twitter Canada. Her recent promotion is further proof she’s on a singular upward trajectory. Come spring, she’ll publish her first book, Our Turn: Time for a New Kind of Leader. So how high can Stewart fly? Years ago, the story goes, when she was a young TV sales exec, she visited a fortune teller in Hong Kong, who told her she would one day become the prime minister of Canada. Obviously, that has not happened. Yet. — Aaron Hutchins

Back to top

#1. Guy A. Lepage (#6 on our Power List)
The king of coaxing

POWER50_ICONS_INST_2
POWER50_ICONS__TEMP_2
POWER50_ICONS__IDEAS_2

Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Guy A. Lepage’s TV talk show, Tout le monde en parle, landed firmly on English Canada’s radar last fall when Montreal Canadiens defenceman P.K. Subban shared his tactic for throwing the opposing team off its game: farting in front of the net. With more than a million francophone viewers, it wasn’t the first time Lepage’s top-rated Radio-Canada program, modelled on a French show of the same name, made waves outside Quebec. Jack Layton’s affable appearances, cane in hand, paved the way for the NDP’s Orange Wave in the 2011 federal election. Justin Trudeau, meanwhile, was ridiculed earlier this year after joking to Lepage about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, blaming a “bad mood” after Russia failed to win an Olympic hockey medal at Sochi. Given his propensity to coax newsworthy comments from people trained to do otherwise, Lepage is a media personality Canadians can ill afford to ignore, regardless of which official language they speak. — Chris Sorensen

Back to top


 

Sign in to comment.