This year’s Power List—the second annual compilation by Maclean’s writers and editors of this unapologetically subjective ranking—highlights the clout of a truly diverse selection of 50 influential Canadians. Our list ranges from household names to: who’s that? Pinnacle corporate predators rub shoulders here with non-profit paragons. To help you understand how we picked them, you’ll see, beside each name, three icons. We’ll be unveiling more and more of our list every day until Canada’s 15 most powerful people are revealed on Friday.
In the meantime: Are you annoyed by our choices? Angered by our omissions? We invite you to write in our comments and offer your own powerful case for a different list.
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.
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.
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, Part 1
- 50. Christine Jennings
- 49. Yannick Nezet-Seguin
- 48. Jeremy Charles
- 47. Samir Sinha
- 46. Shawn Atleo
- 45. Arthur Fogel
- 44. Peter Singer
- 43. Elyse Allan
- 42. John Ruffolo
- 41. Jean-Pierre Blais
- 40. Drake
- 39. Arvind Gupta
- 38. George Stroumboulopoulus
- 37. Michael Cooke
- 36. Ann Cavoukian
- 35. Stephen Scherer
#50: Christine Jennings
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
#49. Yannick Nezet-Seguin
And then he lifts the baton
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
#48. Jeremy Charles
Foodie for thought
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
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#47. Samir Sinha
At the ripe age of 37, Dr. Samir Sinha is emerging as Canada’s most compelling voice for the elderly. In 2012, as the lead author of Ontario’s seniors strategy report, Sinha called for improving health care for older Canadians—and keeping them as physically active as possible—at a time when our ballooning aging population makes this a critical social issue. In 25 years, one-quarter of Canadians will be older than 65. And older adults currently account for 60 per cent of hospital bed days, while making up only 15 per cent of the population. “We have a health care system that was designed to meet the needs of younger Canadians, and now it needs to rapidly adapt to meeting the population it’s serving most,” Sinha says.
As director of geriatrics at Toronto’s Mount Sinai Hospital since 2010—after his return from stints at Johns Hopkins and Oxford University where, as a Rhodes Scholar, he completed his master’s in medical history and a Ph.D. in sociology—Sinha has proven his approach works. His patients spend far less time in hospital than the provincial average and are more likely to live longer, independently at home. This includes Mr. W, now 104, who came under Sinha’s care in 2010 when he was admitted for pneumonia. Sinha ensured Mr. W stayed active and did physiotherapy. He returned home, where he’s been ever since. Many more Canadians may soon benefit from his approach: Sinha is working with the Canadian Medical Association on a national seniors strategy. — Rachel Browne
#46. Shawn Atleo
Pragmatist, incrementalist, motorcyclist
In January, 2013, moments before entering a crucial meeting with Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Shawn Atleo, chief of the Assembly of First Nations (AFN), received a text message from Theresa Spence: “Since you have decided to betray me,” wrote the hunger-striking Attawapiskat chief, “all I ask of you now is to help carry my cold, dead body off this island.” To Atleo, the missive landed like a body blow.
Last May, after months of ceaseless, rearguard action from his political rivals, Atleo resigned partway through his term, becoming the first-ever AFN chief to do so. He’d had enough of Ottawa, he declared. He headed home to B.C., then travelled to the U.S. solo, by motorcycle.
The AFN’s loss was B.C.’s gain. Last month, B.C. Premier Christy Clark tapped the 47-year-old father of two to head a crucial new round of talks between First Nations, industry and government, raising an intriguing question: Can a leader’s power actually rise after he’s been dumped from office?
The job, more promising and powerful than anything the fractious AFN is attempting, seems tailor-made for the enterprising B.C. chief. Atleo, who got his business start by launching a coffee shop in east Vancouver, has long spearheaded First Nations collaboration with industry. (B.C. First Nations are involved in mining and energy projects worth $300 billion.) As he once told the Toronto Board of Trade: “We’re looking for partners. We’re open for business.” He was unlike anything the AFN had ever seen.
Atleo, a hereditary chief of the Ahousaht on western Vancouver Island, was schooled in the pragmatic, incrementalist approach favoured by B.C. Native leaders, who tend to negotiate for their rights. The method puts them at odds with the Prairie leadership, who tend to fight for theirs. “It is our time as indigenous peoples,” says Atleo. “We must smash the status quo.” — Nancy Macdonald
#45. Arthur Fogel
Live and in concert
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
44. Peter Singer
Global health innovator
For the last 25 years, Peter Singer has dedicated his life to the impossible: solving the world’s health and social problems. His 56-page resumé proves this. He’s a medical doctor and professor, and holds numerous titles—from director of the Sandra Rotman Centre to foreign secretary to the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences—and even more accolades, including the Order of Canada and an appointment with the Royal Society of Canada. But it’s Singer’s role as CEO of Grand Challenges Canada where he’s had the most impact and turned Canada into a leader in development and global health.
Launched just over four years ago with funding from the federal government, Grand Challenges Canada finds and funds bold new ideas from innovators around the world to solve health problems in poor countries, from anemia to contaminated water. Under Singer, it has provided $158 million (and an additional $224 million leveraged from outside investors) to develop nearly 700 innovations in more than 80 low- to middle-income countries. But Singer is quick to deflect attention away from himself. “There’s a lot of credit to go around to everyone who makes all of this possible,” he says. “We have a fantastic team and it’s the innovators who are making the difference in peoples’ lives.”
At the Prime Minister’s global summit on maternal, newborn and child health last spring in Toronto, several innovations were debuted, including a project out of the University of British Columbia: a mobile phone app that measures blood oxygen levels to see if a pregnant woman is at risk for pre-eclampsia, one of the deadliest pregnancy complications in developing countries.
“We need innovations like these, because without them, we’ll just be stuck in the present, and that’s just unacceptable,” says Singer. Another Grand Challenges innovation in the works this year is a rapid diagnostic test for Ebola, being developed by an innovator from Uganda.
“It has been an incredible honour to do this on behalf of Canada,” Singer says. “It’s an initiative of which we can all be proud.” — Rachel Browne
43. Elyse Allan
Alberta’s oil sands are both an economic boon and public relations disaster for Canada—a key resource that unfortunately also leaves a relatively large carbon footprint. But rather than engage in endless debates about the merits of squeezing gooey bitumen from the ground, General Electric and GE Canada CEO Elyse Allan are doing what they can to square the circle. Earlier this year, GE launched a program to fund research aimed at reducing emissions of oil sands companies and improving their energy efficiency, with Allan saying that “collaboration is key to solving big challenges.” When she’s not trying to solve one of the country’s thorniest economic problems, all while running the Canadian arm of one of the world’s biggest companies, Allan devotes hours to sitting on government advisory boards, as well as those of the C.D. Howe Institute, Conference Board of Canada and Royal Ontario Museum. — Chris Sorensen
42. John Ruffolo
Always up for a venture
If oil prices keep falling, Canada will quickly realize the danger of relying on resources for growth. It’s a good thing, then, we have John Ruffolo, head of OMERS Ventures, the $200-million venture capital arm of the Ontario municipal workers’ pension fund, planting the seeds for Canada’s next generation of tech giants. Ruffolo, 48, was no stranger to the start-up sector when he took on the venture fund in 2011. At the consulting ﬁrm Deloitte in Toronto he worked closely with early-stage investors to connect them with tech entrepreneurs. His talents and influence are needed more than ever. Tech firms account for just three per cent of the market capitalization of the Toronto Stock Exchange (compared to 25 per cent for energy and mining). So far Ruffolo has nurtured a crop of start-ups, including Hootsuite, Shopify and Vision Critical, that are on track to go public, bringing much needed diversity to Canada’s capital market and helping to revive the country’s entrepreneurial spirit. — Jason Kirby
41. Jean-Pierre Blais
More than just cute kittens
As chairman of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, Jean-Pierre Blais is the most-watched federal regulator. The Conservative government wants consumers to see more price-cutting competition for cellphone services and more choice in how they pay for cable TV channels. Blais is supposed to make it happen. It’s routinely said the CRTC oversight spans a $100-billion business undergoing a revolution. But Blais sets himself up as a voice of caution. In the era of Netflix, Shomi and HBO online, he points out that about 60 per cent of Canadians don’t stream TV shows on their computers. “Canadians still watch on average 28 hours of traditional TV a week,” Blais said recently. “And the hours of viewing [spent on] online video services, including cute kittens on YouTube, is only 1.9 hours per week.” Still, when it comes to crafting new rules for service, and new safeguards for Canadian content, Blais is the man in the hot seat. — John Geddes
From crown prince to kingmaker
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
#39. Arvind Gupta
Thin on experience, rich in conviction
It’s not the fact that Arvind Gupta is a computer scientist that makes him such an unusual choice to oversee the University of British Columbia and its $1.4-billion budget. It is that UBC’s new hire has zero administrative experience in academia, a far cry from the usual path from professor to dean to vice-president to president.
What Gupta does have is a belief that exceptional research of all kinds has a place at UBC. This is blasphemy for those who believe university is a place to learn for learning’s sake, and that research should be “pure” and divorced from commercial interests. Gupta isn’t afraid of stirring the pot. He argues that collaborating with industry is UBC’s way forward—and makes his case for partnerships with the private sector rather bluntly, at least by the polite standards of power struggles in academia. Gupta is also an innovation expert who, as CEO of Mitacs, overhauled the non-profit research-funding organization to make it a place where Canada’s top graduate students are paired with industry to solve real business problems. He’s already announced he will add $100 million to UBC’s $565-million research budget. Now it’s up to Gupta to prove his hypothesis that this multi-million-dollar investment will distinguish UBC graduates and make their diplomas worth more than others. “What we’re doing now,” he says, “is not good enough.” — Nancy Macdonald
38. George Stroumboulopoulos
A vegan’s power play
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
#37. Michael Cooke
Man on a mission
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
#36. Ann Cavoukian
Privacy in 37 languages
Long before her high-profile 15-year tenure as Ontario’s information and privacy commissioner came to an end earlier this year, Ann Cavoukian had solidified her reputation as an international expert on Internet-era intrusions into our private lives. Her Privacy By Design framework, with its seven foundational principles, such as embedding privacy into the design of IT systems, was recognized in 2010 as the global privacy standard. It has since been translated into 37 languages.
A workaholic by nature, Cavoukian opted not to take a break after her three terms as Ontario privacy commissioner, but instead took on a new role at Ryerson University as executive director of the Institute for Privacy and Big Data. With the public’s ongoing concerns about online security and identity theft, Cavoukian’s next chapter will be to demonstrate that acquisition and analysis of mass data sets can coexist with personal privacy. After all, she’s already created the framework. — Aaron Hutchins
35. Stephen Scherer
Science as hockey
For many, science is seen as a kind of higher, sacred sanctum of knowledge, far away from the profane world of power and politics. And yet, for Stephen Scherer—who co-founded and leads Canada’s first genome lab in Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children and whose paradigm-shifting research has him touted as an inevitable Nobel prize laureate—the lab isn’t too different from the hockey rink.
“I have a son who’s quite into hockey, so I hang around with the hockey dads, and no one’s in science. And some of them are very successful people,” said Scherer, 50. “But whenever I talk to them I say, ‘There’s nothing as competitive as science.’ ”
Scherer was a talented hockey player in his day, playing forward for championship squads in high school, but Canada is better for his career shift. He was part of the research team that, in 2004, discovered copy-number variation in DNA, detonating the long-held belief that very little of our genetic makeup could differ. That game-changer has since helped Scherer ﬁnd copy-number variations that could cause genetic diseases; just this year, he unlocked a potential “autism formula” that will help spur more reliable identification from an earlier age, when intervention is most effective. In September, he earned a spot among only four Canadians on this year’s Thomson Reuters citation laureates list, which has correctly predicted 35 Nobel winners in the last 12 years. “If I accomplish nothing else in my life, being on that list is unbelievable,” he says.
Of course, Scherer’s drive precludes that possibility, fuelled by a field where academic peers double as competitors for research-grant dollars. Despite the honours and his prolific output—he’s published more than 400 papers and been cited in more than 30,000—he still puts in 100-hour weeks, reminding himself of the value of his work every time he walks through the doors at the hospital. “You really can’t rest on your laurels. In a way, I kind of like that,” he says. “It’s sort of a sick thing to say, but it never ends in your life.”
And while turning 50 would consign most athletes to retirement, it’s clear Scherer isn’t ready for the emeritus status that comes with science’s highest honour. “Nobel prize-winners will all tell you that once you win, your life changes: you become a public figure, you give talks. So ideally for me, I’d actually win it 10 years out, because of my age.”
To get there? Well, it’s just like in hockey, he says with a laugh: “The key thing is to stay healthy.” — Adrian Lee
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