At the top of our annual Power List are the unknown victims of residential schools—hundreds of children who lost their lives before they were finally heard.
Here, in brief, is the thinking behind our decision, which some may consider unorthodox. In 2021, amid report after report of presumed grave sites being found on the former grounds of residential schools, non-Indigenous Canadians undeniably experienced an awakening.
Everyone from random citizens doing TV street interviews to the Prime Minister himself voiced horror and dismay, as if blindsided by the fact that the assimilationist project this country ran for the better part of a century had claimed the lives of children. Many, many children.
We were not blindsided, of course. The deaths of young Indigenous kids at places like Tk’emlúps, Cowessess and Williams Lake, B.C. were shared widely in the accounts of former students, who passed the knowledge to their children and grandchildren. They were meticulously reported by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in 2015.
We’ve a long way to go to fulfill the essential goals of that commission. But the massive shift in public attitudes that followed the grave discoveries is undeniable. Before making this choice, Maclean’s consulted privately with Indigenous, Métis and Inuit leaders, who unanimously approved of, and in some cases applauded, the idea. The grave finds, they agreed, changed the tone and substance of debate over Indigenous rights. Whether that change yields action, they’re waiting to see.
As in 2021, our ranking hews toward good-faith actors pursuing positive change, even if their approaches, or their notions of positive, are not universally shared. Pierre Poilievre, the presumptive frontrunner for the leadership of the Conservative Party of Canada, is not everyone’s first choice as a seatmate on a long flight. But the Tory MP excels in his role as an opposition critic, holding the government’s feet to the fire.
And again, we’ve looked beyond mere status. The nabobs of banking, lobbying, telecom and other arms of the establishment must do more than occupy corner offices to merit berths on our ranking.
The result, we believe, is a list that reflects the pressing issues facing the country, and the opportunities ahead. Attentive readers will notice that Canadians who guided us through the first years of the pandemic—public health leaders, epidemiologists—have given way in this year’s ranking to those who will guide us out of it.
It’s our version of cautious optimism. With luck and good sense, we’ll emerge from Omicron into a world where COVID-19 is a managed risk, and we’ll refocus on the challenges that define Canada and its place in the world. As ever, our ability to navigate these problems will rest heavily on our brightest, bravest and most accomplished. Remember their names, and lend them your ears.
The children who never came home
A society deaf to their cries finally chooses to hear
In Secwepemctsín, the language of the Secwépemc, they’re called le estcwéý. The missing. The ones taken to residential school who never returned. Survivors of Kamloops Indian Residential School in B.C. spoke of them, as did Elders across Canada who were forced into the notorious facilities.
In late May, Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc announced that some 200 presumed graves of le estcwéý had been found on the grounds of the Kamloops residential school. Waves of revulsion and guilt washed across the country. Through decades of testimony of abuse—through the federal reports, legal settlements, formal apologies and a years-long public hashing-out of this national disgrace in the TRC—there had been periodic outpourings of disgust and grief. But this shock was deeper, as non-Indigenous people and First Nations, Métis and Inuit alike thought of children’s lives being cut short while they attended these harsh, chronically underfunded and assimilation-focused boarding schools, and of hundreds being buried in something unthinkable in the non-Indigenous world: a school cemetery.
If this, to Canada’s discredit, is what it takes to address historical atrocity, the legacy of these children will grow. Once the epitome of powerlessness, they and their silent cries for justice are finally being heard.Jason Markusoff explains why the unnamed victims of residential schools are No. 1 on The Power List.
Chrystia Freeland wields serious clout, in both the present and future-hypothetical tenses. Along with being deputy prime minister and finance minister—the first woman to hold that prestigious post—she is one of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s closest confidants and a leading candidate to succeed him as Liberal leader whenever the post-Trudeau era should dawn. But that sword cuts both ways: Freeland enjoys the benediction of the inner circle, but that aura could become a shadow of the boss’s missteps and curdled reputation.
A hike, anyone?
Canadians’ biggest concern as 2021 wound down wasn’t the pandemic, health care or the national debt. It was the cost of living. You can blame the free-spending feds, but more responsibility lies with Tiff Macklem, governor of the Bank of Canada. Since his appointment in May 2020, he’s steered the economy through a unique recession with a bond-buying spree and record-low interest rates. Spring 2022 will test Macklem’s choices: the bank’s promised rate hikes may tame inflation yet also throw a wrench into the soaring housing market.
During the nomination process to the Supreme Court of Canada, Justice Mahmud Jamal explained his view of the law: “Every case is consequential, even if not precedential, because it matters to the parties. I try to approach each case with an open mind and a willingness to listen . . . it is always more important to listen than to speak.” Now, as the first person of colour nominated to the Supreme Court and the first in his family to attend university, Jamal will listen to—and speak on—the weightiest legal issues in the country.
Rising to the challenge
Summoning the PM
The impassioned yet level response by Kúkpi7 (Chief) Rosanne Casimir of Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc to unmarked residential school graves made her a leading voice on the injustice and the challenge of moving forward. She extracted an apology from the Prime Minister for hitting a Tofino, B.C., beach on the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, and she will be among Indigenous leaders visiting the Vatican this year. Casimir has asked Pope Francis to visit Tk’emlúps; she wouldn’t handle a slight too gently.
Most NHL hockey players cannot skate at 37.1 km/h. Davies reached that speed in a pair of soccer cleats in an 80-yard game-winning wonder goal against Panama that changed the future of the Beautiful Game in Canada. Born in a Ghanaian refugee camp to parents fleeing civil war in Liberia, Davies immigrated to Canada at age five and proved homegrown soccer talent can be good enough to play for a global powerhouse like Bayern Munich. Off the pitch, the 21-year-old became the first soccer player to sign on as a global goodwill ambassador with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. With the Edmontonian leading a crop of young talent, Canada’s men’s national team is no longer a laughingstock. At press time, it was on the verge of qualifying for World Cup 2022 in Qatar and may soon showcase its talent before an international audience of hundreds of millions.
The in-crowd running the country
The Prime Minister’s inner circle has always seemed as clubby as an ensemble prestige drama, sometimes to its detriment. At this point—season seven?—an amazing number of the major players have been replaced by new actors, and yet the opening montage rolls on unchanged. Justin Trudeau’s grip on his party is unchallenged, and he answered with a deliberately blunt “Yes” when questioned last fall, after his second squeaker election win, about whether he’d remain as Liberal leader. His chief of staff, Katie Telford, appears just as firmly ensconced. The rest of the inner circle now consists of deputy chiefs of staff Brian Clow and Marjorie Michel, senior adviser Ben Chin, campaign whisperer Tom Pitfield, director of policy John Brodhead and director of COVID-19 response Rick Theis. Team Trudeau has a reputation for handling big issues well (NAFTA, Trump and vaccine procurement), while whiffing or outright shooting themselves in the foot on smaller ones. Here’s hoping 2022 brings more of the former and less of the latter.
Our eye on the variants
Marc-André Langlois, a molecular virologist at the University of Ottawa, leads the Coronavirus Variants Rapid Response Network (CoVaRR-Net), a little-known interdisciplinary group of scientists who have outsized influence on Canada’s handling of pandemic waves. Formed amid the sudden emergence of Delta, the network quickly analyzes and researches variants and guides public health decisions. Langlois proudly calls CoVaRR-Net “a Canadian network of Canadian researchers, addressing Canadian issues.” Not surprisingly, as Omicron swept the country, CoVaRR-Net’s $9-million annual research funding was renewed.
Voice of workers
Bruske was a teen working at a Winnipeg grocery store when she joined her first picket line. Three decades on, she’s president of the Canadian Labour Congress, the country’s largest labour group. While her predecessor was accused of being cozy with the Liberals (he left to take a Senate appointment), Bruske slammed federal pandemic-support programs and called out missed timelines for pharmacare. If Liberals want the labour vote, she’ll make them work for it.
Quebec’s human citadel
Despite Quebec’s pandemic woes, straight-talking François Legault deftly managed public expectations and remains one of Canada’s most popular premiers. But ahead of this year’s election, his majoritarian policies are under the microscope. The removal of a hijab-wearing teacher in Chelsea stoked renewed outrage over Bill 21. A planned tax on the unvaccinated has been criticized as thinly disguised scapegoating. Still, other politicians’ careful, legalistic criticisms betray a deference to Legault’s grip on power. He remains very much in control.
The Ontario premier spent 2021 polling leagues above his competitors, but that was before he fumbled the province’s response to Omicron, infuriating parents with a last-minute school closure. Ford still shows his early-pandemic tendency toward bipartisanship, tapping ideological foe Jerry Dias to focus on American automotive protectionism and (belatedly) raising the minimum wage to $15. His greatest asset heading into a June election is a weak opposition. His greatest liability? His own inconsistency and incoherence.
Parents at wit’s end
Hapless political leaders are experiencing the Old Testament wrath of moms and dads
In his stumbles during the spring of 2021, Ontario Premier Doug Ford walked headlong into an under-appreciated and self-renewing natural resource: parental rage. As hospitals exploded with the Delta variant, Ford decided to shut down playgrounds once again, generating a howl of public protest so savage, unified and instantaneous that he walked the idea back immediately. It was not the first time kids had been thrown under the bus during the pandemic, and it would not be the last.
Over the coming year, politicians and leaders of all levels and stripes would do well to remember that tsunami of fury, because at some point someone is going to push parents too far by inflicting yet more craven and cruel decisions on their children, and a massive and motivated voting bloc will snap back with a vengeance.Shannon Proudfoot explains why parents are No. 13 on The Power List.
Trudeau’s green knight
Climate skeptics, welcome to your nightmare. Maybe. At the helm of Canada’s federal environment file, tasked with navigating Liberal policy deemed too middle-of-the-road for his former colleagues, is ex-Greenpeace director Steven Guilbeault. The clean-tech expert and avid cyclist claims he’ll manage work-related travel via Canada’s train system. His appointment displeased energy execs hoping for a moderate touch. But activists, alarmed anew by recent devastation in British Columbia, aren’t cheering yet. Proof of this minister’s commitment will be in the pudding.
A master in action
One of the fizzier pleasures of Denis Villeneuve’s space epic Dune, which in other ways is one of the most understated blockbusters Hollywood ever made, is the steady procession of major screen talent across the windy dunes. Zendaya! Oscar Isaac! Rebecca Ferguson! Josh Brolin! That he could get all of them in one film is a measure of the ever-growing clout of the soft-spoken 54-year-old from Bécancour, Que., across the river from Trois Rivières. It’s been less than a decade since his first film in English, Prisoners, with Jake Gyllenhaal and Hugh Jackman. Next? A Dune sequel, and maybe Cleopatra. “The only way I can be a decent filmmaker is if I can keep my identity,” he once told an interviewer. It’s what he tells film producers: “If you want to impose your own vision, there’s 5,000 fantastic film directors in Hollywood that can do it for you, and everybody will be happy—the filmmakers will be happy, the producers will be happy, the studio will be happy. Do it with them. If you want to do it with me, unfortunately the only way I can do it is my way.”
Ready to pounce
Jason Kenney made this list last year, but several botched COVID waves later, he’s deeply unpopular in Alberta and will fight mightily this spring to stay at the helm of his own United Conservative Party (UCP). Rachel Notley’s NDP, meanwhile, has been atop provincial polls for more than a year, and they consistently out-fundraise the UCP. So it looks more and more like Notley will waltz back into the premier’s office, barring scandal for her or a major revival in Kenney’s popularity (or that of his replacement). Her rival’s ideological policies on health, education and environment allow Notley to position herself as the mainstream, moderate option—especially if she resists pressure to tack to the idealist left. Kenney was fond of calling Notley’s NDP the “accidental government,” chosen in 2015 in a fit of voter pique with the Tories. Next year, Albertans could well choose Notley as premier with their eyes wide open.
It’s their House, too
After each underperformed in a ho-hum election, Erin O’Toole*, Jagmeet Singh and Yves-François Blanchet (whose parties have official status in the Commons) have settled back into opposition benches. With rare exceptions—such as a unanimous vote initiated by the Tories to pass a ban on conversion therapy—the chaos and competitive bravado of minority Parliament is back. So is party infighting. But there’s opportunity: Liberals need legislative dance partners to achieve anything. Opposition leaders can use their leverage to show us democracy at its best. Or its worst.
*Editor’s note, Feb. 9, 2022: After this item was published in print, Conservative MPs ousted Erin O’Toole as their leader in a caucus vote, and elected Candice Bergen as interim leader. A date has not yet been set for the party to vote on a permanent leader.
This Bay Street power player knows firsthand that anti-Black racism exists everywhere, including the corporate world. In 2020, Hall set out to dismantle it by founding the BlackNorth Initiative. Nearly 500 companies have since taken its pledge, committing to increasing Black representation among their board members and executives to 3.5 per cent. In 2021, Hall broke new barriers on television as the first Black judge on Dragons’ Den. He’s also releasing a memoir, No Bootstraps When You’re Barefoot, later this year.
Three decades ago, at 23, she became the first woman and youngest-ever chief elected for Taykwa Tagamou Nation in northeastern Ontario. She broke the same barriers as deputy grand chief for Nishnawbe Aski Nation, which represents 49 communities in northern Ontario, and grand chief of the Mushkegowuk Council of Cree chiefs in the region. RoseAnne Archibald’s pioneering didn’t stop with her formidable early career. After leaving politics to run a successful consulting business, she returned in 2018 as the first female Ontario regional chief. Now, she leads the national Assembly of First Nations. “You can tell all the women in your life that the glass ceiling has been broken,” she said upon her historic election last July. “And I thank all of the women who touched that ceiling before me and made it crack.” Archibald holds the reins at a crucial moment in the project of reconciliation. Though she has already travelled a long road, her work is just beginning.
Silent and alone no longer
In a wrenchingly emotional and courageous interview after going public as the John Doe who alleged he had been sexually abused by former Chicago Blackhawks video coach Brad Aldrich, forward Kyle Beach exposed the cravenness of the NHL community’s response and displayed more grace than anyone who was responsible. “I felt like I was alone and there was nothing I could do and nobody I could turn to for help,” he said, before tearfully apologizing to the teenager Aldrich abused after leaving the ’Hawks. Beach’s quiet determination forced an independent investigation that led to the resignation of a general manager, a top executive and a head coach, all of whom had apparently prioritized Chicago’s playoff prospects above the safety and well-being of players. Thanks to Beach, it’s now clear there will be consequences for abuse, even if they’re delayed.
Making the pandemic pay
In May 2020, Tobias Lütke, CEO and co-founder of Canadian tech darling Shopify, boldly tweeted that “office centricity is over.” Shopify became one of the first global tech companies to go remote by default, driving the future of work and signalling support to the 1.7 million businesses that rely on its e-commerce platform. This year, it will expand into fulfillment warehouses, merchant financing and brick-and-mortar point-of-sale systems, cementing its position as Amazon’s biggest rival—and Lütke as a kind of anti-Jeff Bezos.
The caring person’s economist
On March 30, 2020, Armine Yalnizyan appeared on CBC Radio to discuss the nascent pandemic’s potential economic fallout. “Most recessions are driven by men making stuff,” she said. “This one is a she-cession.” It was the first time anyone used the uncommon portmanteau to describe what was happening. By 2021, Google searches for “she-cession” spiked every few months; today, it’s a rallying cry for working-class women, women of colour and advocates of a higher minimum wage.
More important than coining a trendy term: Yalnizyan was right. In fact, she’s been right about a lot of things lately. Her ability to parse and analyze our uncertain economic reality has made her one of the most important economists in Canada, one whose voice will prove invaluable in steering the country’s post-pandemic recovery.Michael Fraiman explains why Armine Yalnizyan is No. 22 on The Power List.
Lisa Raitt & Anne McLellan
Voices above the partisan din
These two former ministers—one Conservative, one Liberal—are making it hard for leaders to ignore their Coalition for a Better Future and its call for an ambitious economic vision that looks beyond election cycles. More than 100 national organizations have signed on, from the Canadian Mental Health Association to the Canadian Meat Council, because who doesn’t want a “more inclusive, sustainable and prosperous Canada”? Now that McLellan and Raitt have this enviably broad-based backing, let’s see how they wield it.
Holding the keys to crypto
Shiba coins? Dogelon Mars? Ether? These might sound like random syllables smashed against each other, but for Russian-Canadian cryptocurrency master Vitalik Buterin, they’re gold mines. He helped pioneer crypto in the early 2010s, co-founded Bitcoin Magazine in 2012 and launched Ethereum, an e-commerce system rivalled only by Bitcoin itself, in 2015. Since amassing a fortune in virtual tokens, he’s donated trillions of them to worthy causes. Buterin has been anointed crypto’s philosopher king, but he’s fast becoming its messiah.
Talking to Americans
Hillman was named Canada’s ambassador to the United States in March 2020 and couldn’t have landed the job at a more precarious time. The first woman to occupy the role has navigated unprecedented border closures and efforts to free the two Michaels, while healing damage dealt by president Trump to U.S.-Canada relations. Alas, Joe Biden’s administration seems no less protectionist than Trump’s. But Hillman, a long-time public servant who helped wrangle the new NAFTA, has curried bipartisan favour as she’s gone along.
Curse of Politics gang
Foul-mouthedness may be a draw of the Curse of Politics, but the quick-wittedness of Scott Reid (former communications chief to Paul Martin), the BS-intolerance of Jenni Byrne (Stephen Harper’s sometime campaign manager) and the blunt questioning of host David Herle (former strategist to Martin and Kathleen Wynne) are the real reasons this weekly podcast has become appointment-listening for politicos. These are two Liberals and one Tory who criticize their respective parties’ current leaders without reserve. When an episode drops, curses must fly in the offices of Trudeau and O’Toole.
Guide to higher learning
In the decades since Cooper started teaching courses on African-Canadian history, she’s had to deal with everything from a white student hurling the N-word at her in class to fellow scholars questioning the necessity of her research. But the Dalhousie professor and dub poet pressed forward, most recently helping launch a major in Black and African diaspora studies at Dal. There’s no textbook on how to improve the teaching of Black history to Canadian students, but Cooper now has an opportunity to lead the way. With $1 million in funding from Canadian Heritage, she’ll head a three-year project designed to fill the gap in African-Canadian history education and create learning materials for elementary and secondary schools across the country.
Beyond food charity
Emergency food relief remains a very necessary societal band-aid. Yet Saul is ramping up his community food centre project to provide a better way. The concept offers cooking, gardening and group dining programs in low-income communities. The centres, which now number 14, range from Kamloops, B.C., to Dartmouth, N.S., to northern Indigenous communities in Manitoba and Saskatchewan. While support from governments and donors rises, Saul is fostering what he calls a “national good food movement.”
Community Food Centres Canada is a non- funding partner in a one-year Maclean’s position dedicated to journalism about hunger and food insecurity.
No mere figurehead
The Governor General is typically symbolic, not powerful. But Mary Simon is not a typical GG. The first Indigenous woman to occupy Rideau Hall has come into office at a critical time: the graves of Indigenous children have been discovered at residential schools; the crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous women remains unsolved; and First Nations activists are causing billion-dollar pipelines to be delayed or abandoned. Reconciliation is urgently needed. If anyone can help—even from a symbolic position—it’s Simon.
Murray & Niigaan Sinclair
A shared pursuit of justice
The way Niigaan Sinclair puts it, his father, Murray Sinclair, was the first one in the room. That is, he was among the first Indigenous in Canadian institutional settings. In the courtroom, as a lawyer. Then on the judges’ bench. Then in the Senate. Then as chief commissioner for a long-overdue inquiry into the residential schools system.
Niigaan has trained thousands of teachers about Indigenous education. Murray, in the twilight of his own career, mentors young lawyers. Though he keeps intending to retire, his pre-eminent expertise is highly sought-after. The septuagenarian former senator now oversees high-profile negotiations over federal compensation to Indigenous children.Marie-Danielle Smith explains why Murray and Niigaan Sinclair are No. 30 on The Power List.
A winning formula
She made history in 2017 when she became the first woman elected mayor of Montreal. In 2021, Valérie Plante won re-election with a majority of 51 per cent. The 47-year-old and her party, Projet Montréal, won over voters with a progressive platform that included expanding social housing and reducing car traffic. Her vision for a sustainable, livable city in an era of climate crisis is one other urban centres are sure to follow.
Pandemic point man
Harpreet Kochhar was named president of the Public Health Agency of Canada in October, and while the job is of crucial importance right now, Kochhar—and the rest of Canada—has every reason to hope that he’s a lot less high-profile in a year. A small-animal veterinarian by training, he has said many of the skills that served him well in that role translate to the public service: “You need decision-making and problem-solving skills, diagnostic and differential diagnosis skills, and interpersonal skills.”
The power of the picture
Over 25 years, Cameron Bailey has leapt from programmer to artistic director to co-head of the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF); last November, he was promoted to CEO. Bailey has secured acclaimed premieres and spearheaded systemic changes that boosted the festival’s global profile; last year, TIFF’s hybrid digital-physical approach included “satellite screenings” held across Canada. Since TIFF is a launching pad for Oscar nominees, it’s no surprise that, last July, Bailey was finally invited to join the Academy itself.
Moving fashion forward
“Tax the rich.” Three little words, scrawled in blood red on the back of a white dress. It’s what iconoclastic congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez wore to the 2021 Met Gala, a bold statement on a red carpet full of America’s elite. The dress was designed by Canadian fashion star Aurora James, a 37-year-old visionary who melds haute couture and progressive politics, often with African inflections. James is dressing down the fashion establishment, tearing up its conventions and building something radically new.
Western Conservative MPs
The big-sky bloc
From Ted Falk in Manitoba’s Provencher to Todd Doherty in B.C.’s Cariboo—Prince George, they represent a region with nearly one-third of Canada’s population and make up more than half the CPC caucus. They skew more populist, tough-on-crime and pro oil than the country as a whole or, for that matter, eastern Conservative voters. Ever keen to exploit wedges, both Erin O’Toole and the Liberal government conduct affairs with this bloc’s outsized clout in mind.
The law of the land
The Nuchatlaht muschim (people) never surrendered their land on the west coast of Vancouver Island, a region heavily affected by industrial-scale logging. That’s why they hired Jack Woodward. The West Coast lawyer will represent the Nuchatlaht First Nation before the Supreme Court of B.C. in the first trial over Aboriginal title since the province introduced legislation to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.Few understand Canadian law as it pertains to First Nations as well as Woodward, who spent 25 years the landmark case that in 2014 established a declaration of Aboriginal title for the Tŝilhqot’in Nation in central B.C. If he proves successful again for the Nuchatlaht, expect a growing trend of Crown land moving into Indigenous ownership.
Chika Stacy Oriuwa
Role model by choice
When Chika Stacy Oriuwa arrived at the University of Toronto as an incoming medical student, she found herself the only Black student in a cohort of 259. It was September 2016, and she quickly channelled her disappointment into action, advocating for processes that would increase diversity in medicine and becoming the face of the new Black student application program the following year.
The program, which encourages applications from Black students, has already had remarkable success. When Oriuwa graduated in 2020, she was the sole valedictorian of her class—the only Black woman to receive the honour in the school’s 179-year history—and the university had just admitted 24 Black medical students, the largest cohort ever. She’s now a psychiatry resident, and says she chose the field because it has “some of the most marginalized patient demographics in medicine.”Michelle Cyca explains why Chika Stacy Oriuwa is No. 37 on The Power List.
Turning big money green
As governor of the Bank of Canada, Carney helped lead the country through the Great Recession. As governor of the Bank of England, he steered the U.K. through Brexit. Now, he’s the UN special envoy on climate action and finance, and chair of the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero, a coalition of firms representing $130 trillion in assets (more than the global annual GDP) who are committed to decarbonizing the economy. Hard to imagine a greater challenge than saving the world from climate disaster. Except, maybe, running to lead a certain late-cycle governing political party in Canada.
Voice of inconvenient truth
There was a brief silence after the Olympic torch was lit at Ancient Olympia. Then Chemi Lhamo interrupted with shouts—loud enough for anyone watching on TV to hear—about China’s documented genocide of minority Uighurs. The Tibetan-Canadian has not stopped since her arrest in Greece. Back home in Toronto, she pushed for the Games to be relocated from Beijing. Quixotic? Yes. But when it comes to China’s human rights abuses, Lhamo has a way of making her voice heard.
Banking on progress
When Rania Llewellyn moved to Halifax from Cairo in 1992, she spent years patiently trying to break into the financial world. Fast-forward to October 2020. After 25 years spent rising through the ranks at Scotiabank, she is now the CEO of Laurentian, the first woman to lead a major Canadian chartered bank.
Laurentian desperately needed a shakeup. Its strategy was vague, customer service was cumbersome, its share price was down, mortgages were dropping and its user-facing technology was almost comically outdated.
Llewellyn acted quickly, bringing new faces into senior positions and approving the company’s first-ever mobile app, which debuted in December. The bank moved decisively to cut overhead costs, shedding real estate in Toronto and Montreal and shifting to a remote-first workforce.
Other issues are more systemic. Llewellyn has pledged to focus on company culture, transparency and sustainability. Success will take time. Good thing she’s patient.
Taking her cause to the next level
When she was eight, Peltier noticed a toxic water sign at Serpent River First Nation in northern Ontario, and her mission found her. When she was 12, she confronted Justin Trudeau at an Assembly of First Nations event and extracted from him a pledge to protect the water. Peltier turns 18 this year. With years of advocacy on her CV and a sharper sense of the possibilities and limitations of the world, she will press to collect on that promise.
France Margaret Bélanger
Watch out for the Montreal Canadiens’ new president of sports and entertainment, France Margaret Bélanger. The formidably credentialed lawyer is overseeing the business at a challenging time: the Habs face a management shakeup and, potentially, a roster rebuild. But her presence at the top heralds bigger change. She’s the first woman to sit on the storied team’s executive committee and serves on the NHL’s Executive Inclusion Council, whose mandate is to bring more diversity to a hockey world that could sorely use it.
Omar El Akkad
One for the books
This time last year, El Akkad wasn’t sure anyone would even read his latest novel, What Strange Paradise. It is the story of a young Syrian asylum seeker who survives a shipwreck—or, as El Akkad explains it, a reinterpretation of the famous Western fable Peter Pan, if the boy who wouldn’t grow up were a child refugee. The novel went on to win the prestigious 2021 Scotiabank Giller Prize, and has cemented El Akkad’s status as one of the country’s most prominent literary voices.Aaron Hutchins explains why Omar El Akkad is No. 43 on The Power List.
Jab, jab, right hook
Look up “pugnacious” in the dictionary and you might well see Pierre Poilievre’s face. The federal Conservatives’ chief pugilist is back in action as finance critic—and consistently threatens to overshadow a leader whose milder brand of politics has frustrated diehard partisans. Though he is often dismissed by his opponents as an insufferable blowhard, the career politician is whip smart and has mastered the exploitation of Liberal weak spots over an almost 18-year stint in the Commons. Underestimate him at your peril.
Making intel smarter
The head of Canada’s spy agency did something unusual last spring—he let everybody watch him, in a speech to a think tank. The CSIS director specifically fingered China (and Russia) as increasingly engaged in foreign interference, words sure to cast a shadow over Ottawa’s long-delayed Huawei 5G decision. Given these dangers, Vigneault is calling for legislative reform to give his service greater, possibly international, reach. Intel bosses seldom talk. When they do, it’s probably a good idea to listen.
Love and understanding
For all CBC TV’s recent international success, none of its programming has come close to Sort Of, a queer, urban, authentic, idiosyncratic sitcom starring and co-created by Bilal Baig. With rave reviews and a pickup by HBO in the U.S., the show epitomizes universality through specificity: Sabi, the non-binary Pakistani-Canadian Muslim character, is no everyperson. But the show—and Baig’s performance—draws empathy better than most. Will Sort Of, like CBC’s other queer-themed hit Schitt’s Creek, someday sweep the Emmys?
Unbowed by Bill 21
Sometimes, injustice is so personal and nakedly visible it’s impossible to deny. Fatemeh Anvari was removed from her classroom last fall for refusing to remove her hijab while teaching third-grade at a school in Chelsea, Que., a violation of her province’s controversial secularism law. Before she was removed, Bill 21 was often met with shrugs and hand-wringing from federal politicians afraid to scare off Quebecers. But Anvari has proven a formidable type of critic: a teacher who just wants to do her job.
Correction, Feb. 17, 2022: The original version of this entry stated that Anvari was fired from her position. In fact, she was taken out of the classroom and reassigned to other duties.
Setting the gold standard
Since Own the Podium was founded in 2004 to transform Canada from Olympic underperformer to contender, our medal count has climbed, reaching an all-time high of 29 at the 2018 Winter Games. Other countries took note. Whether we can up our count again in Beijing will in part come down to the influence of former elite curler Anne Merklinger, CEO since 2012, who oversees how the organization’s federal funds are invested in athletes and teams to maximize our odds of winning gold.
Swinging for the fences
Alex Anthopoulos started his career in baseball in 2000 with his hometown Montreal Expos, opening fan mail addressed to the players—and he did it for free to get a foot in the door. Fast-forward 21 years, which included a stint as general manager of the Toronto Blue Jays, and Anthopoulos is the first Canadian GM to win the World Series, a feat he accomplished with the Atlanta Braves. Now hearing rumours of the Tampa Bay Rays relocating part-time to Montreal, Quebecers are wondering one thing about this coveted front-office leader: if the Expos return, would he come home to lead his boyhood team?
The well-placed source
From chronicling the toxic workplace at Rideau Hall under former governor general Julie Payette to exposing rampant accusations of sexual misconduct and institutional indifference in the Canadian military, Ashley Burke has earned a reputation as a dogged journalist who gives a voice to people who have been victimized by powerful institutions. A senior reporter with CBC’s parliamentary bureau, Burke has become a name to reckon with when she goes digging into bad behaviour in and around Ottawa.