50 Most Influential 2012: a ranking of Toronto’s top tycoons, backroom operators and supersize egos
50 Most Influential 2012: a ranking of Toronto’s top tycoons, backroom operators and supersize egos
50 Most Influential 2012: a ranking of Toronto’s top tycoons, backroom operators and supersize egos
The people driving the agenda for the city are more likely to come from outside local government than inside. This was the year our premier, rendered virtually impotent by a minority legislature, up and quit without warning. And our mayor, who listens to no one and refuses to build consensus on council, has created a city hall power vacuum.
What follows is Toronto Life’s list of the real influence peddlers—the people who, either publicly or behind the scenes, have had the greatest impact on the city. We looked for people whose power was broad enough to be felt across different sectors, or else so palpable in their immediate field that it somehow changed things for the rest of us. We looked for people whose ability to alter public opinion, raise money, rally troops or simply get stuff done was both formidable and undeniable. The result is a carefully calculated and highly opinionated look at power in the city in 2012.
1 | Mark Carney, 47, Bank of Canada
He’s the Master Economist. The Banker-in-Chief. Mister One Per Cent (as in interest rates, not the wealthy elite). He’s also, increasingly, head cheerleader, life coach and shaman for Toronto’s corporate titans and consumers alike, alternately boosting spirits and slapping wrists. This year, he admonished CEOs for hoarding cash rather than reinvesting it to help stimulate the economy, warned about rising household debt levels, and, along with Jim Flaherty, tried to cool the overheated housing market through a combination of tough talk and tougher mortgage-lending rules (it worked). His focus is now on keeping everybody calm in the face of yet another year of slow growth—he recently channelled FDR when he said the only thing Canadians had to fear about the global economy was fear itself. Still, the man who controls the monetary policy for the country must choose his words carefully. Bay Streeters hang on to every syllable, parsing his sentences for the slightest cue to possible interest rate hikes or projections for growth or inflation. (His FDR speech caused the dollar to drop more than half a cent.) Carney is redefining the role of central banker, from something opaque and stuffy to more transparent and activist. And the world is watching. GLOBAL APPEAL: The Goldman Sachs alum (he once helped run the company’s Toronto office) is a rock star among lenders of last resort and is currently chair of the G20’s Financial Stability Board, for which he helped write the new rules of global banking. U.K. politicians are rumoured to want him as the next governor of the Bank of England, and his name is frequently floated as a future head of the IMF. Oh, right, and there’s also that opening at the head of the federal Liberal party.
UPDATE: At the time of publication of our December issue, Mark Carney had not yet announced his appointment as the new governor of the Bank of England. Carney will remain in his position as the governor of the Bank of Canada until the end of June 2013.
2 | Michael Nobrega, 68, OMERS, Jim Leech, 65, OTPP, Mark Wiseman, 42, CPPIB
These three men control the pension investment of 420,000 government employees, 300,000 teachers and 18 million Canadians, respectively. And when the federal finance minister comes to town, he’s more likely to meet with them than with the CEOs of the big banks. Where once pension plans were conservative and passive, today Ontario’s big three are nimble risk takers. The big three used to pay civil servant salaries; now they attract smart young guns from the private sector with seven-figure compensations. The results are being copied by pension organizations around the world: Teachers’ has enjoyed an average 10 per cent return since 1990 (the highest of any pension plan in the world) and manages $117.1 billion in assets; OMERS has $56 billion in assets, CPPIB $165.8 billion. BRAGGING RIGHTS: Wiseman partnered with Silicon Valley hall-of-famer Andreessen Horowitz to invest in Skype, which they eventually sold to Microsoft for $8.5 billion. Earlier this year, Teachers’ made a fivefold return on its investment when it sold its stake in MLSE to Rogers and Bell for $1.32 billion. REVERSE COLONIALISM: CPPIB recently teamed up with Onex in a $5-billion takeover of London-based global engineering giant Tomkins PLC. Teachers’ has also been on a buying spree in the U.K., gobbling up Bristol Airport, Britain’s national lottery operator and its only high-speed rail line, which it purchased along with OMERS. All three funds have massive infrastructure and real estate assets around the world.
3 | Jim Flaherty, 62, Minister of Finance
Flaherty is like an older brother who goes off to university and can’t stop bullying his younger sibs back home. Last spring, he spent a couple of weeks obsessively berating McGuinty over his government’s spending habits, saying it was time Ontario “grew up.” It was an odd bout of petty one-upmanship for a federal finance minister who clearly relishes his national—and global—influence. Flaherty has safely steered Canada through the great recession and into the most enviable position of any G8 country. He’s the only person in Ottawa to call if you want something done in Toronto, whether it’s a subway expansion, waterfront development or new athletic centre. FORD TOUGH: An old family friend of the Fords, he knows how to talk sense into our lone-wolf mayor.
4 | John Tory, 58, CivicAction
He enjoys more influence outside of Queen’s Park than he did as leader of the PCs. He sways public opinion on his radio show and has a vast network of powerful friends and admirers—from across the political spectrum—who regularly seek his counsel. Last year, he stepped into the shoes of deceased urban messiah David Pecaut, taking over as chair of CivicAction (formerly the City Summit Alliance), whose goal is nothing short of solving everything that ails the Toronto region. GREEN THUMB: In August, Queen’s Park accepted all 18 of Tory’s recommendations for the future of Ontario Place, which he called “a new public backyard for all Ontarians,” featuring parkland, residential and commercial spaces, and cultural and entertainment venues.
5 | Rob Prichard, 63, Torys LLP
Any list of Prichard bona fides has to be preceded by a deep breath. He’s served as the head of Torstar; the chair of Torys LLP, Penguin Canada, Metrolinx and the Visiting Committee of Harvard Law School; a board member at BMO Financial Group, tobacco giant Imasco, Onex and George Weston; a trustee of SickKids; the vice-chair of Canada’s Science, Technology and Innovation Council; director of the Toronto Community Foundation; and a member of Canada’s Economic Advisory Council and Ontario’s Economic Advisory Panel—and that’s just page one of his resumé. For his troubles he’s been made an Officer of the Order of Canada, a Member of the Order of Ontario and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. PARTY ANIMAL: He’s an equal-opportunity political advisor, having worked for the Ontario Liberals, NDP and Tories.
6 | Heather Reisman, 64, Chapters Indigo
Her decision to unload her Kobo e-reader left Bay Street’s market watchers scratching their heads, until they realized she’d pulled off the heist of the century—investing $32 million, then selling two years later for $315 million. Reisman’s influence in the hard-copy world has never been more potent, thanks to the cult of personality she’s built with Heather’s Picks and the live Q&As she hosts with major authors. She’s also one half of the most connected power duo in the city: she and her husband, Gerry Schwartz, are at the epicentre of an elite social network that encompasses Bay Street, Ottawa, the American entertainment industry and beyond. PART-TIME GIGS: The editor-at-large of Huffington Post Canada, a steering committee member of Bilderberg (the shadowy club for international persons of influence that keeps conspiracy theorists up at night) and a board member of Onex, Right to Play and Mount Sinai Hospital.
7 | Larry Tanenbaum, 66, Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment and Kilmer Group
The MLSE chairman and head of the holding company the Kilmer Group knows how to make money, and on Bay Street, that’s what matters. He helped convince rivals Rogers and Bell to play nice in their joint MLSE buyout, and in the process upped his stake in the sports colossus from 20.5 to 25 per cent. If he could just hoist the Stanley Cup (or even the Major League Soccer trophy, whatever that’s called), he’d be not only one of the city’s most powerful people, but among its most beloved, too. BRICKS AND MORTAR: Kilmer helped build the Air Canada Centre and Ricoh Coliseum, and is developing the Pan Am Games residences in the West Don Lands.
8 | Ed Clark, 65, TD Bank
Calling the head of a Canadian bank powerful is a bit like saying the sun is yellow, but Clark stands out among his peers as a visionary whose influence extends well beyond the banking world. Though TD ranks second in size among the big five, its continued focus on retail—including buying up branches from failed U.S. banks in the wake of the economic meltdown—has been the most successful recessional strategy of all. TD is now the sixth biggest bank in North America, with 85,000 employees and $806 billion in assets. With his background in public policy, Clark has been known to weigh in on issues like CMHC rules (tighten ’em up) and federal deficit reduction (“Raise my taxes,” he famously told Harper in a speech, echoing Warren Buffett’s sentiment in the States). He even helped persuade McGuinty to adopt the HST. GLOBAL APPEAL: Barron’s recently named him to its annual list of the 30 best CEOs in the world.
9 | Leo DelZotto, 72, Tridel, Mitchell Cohen, 61, Daniels, Mark Mandelbaum, 58, Lanterra, Peter Freed, 43, Freed Developments
The condo boom has been the biggest story of the last decade, and these four developers have led the charge. Tridel is the city’s oldest and biggest developer. The DelZotto family pioneered condo construction in the GTA in the ’70s, and they remain the most ambitious in the field, with four LEED-certified projects in progress in the downtown core alone. Cohen’s Daniels Corporation pushed the intensification of King West with its Festival Tower and is transforming Regent Park through its revitalization project with Toronto Community Housing. Mandelbaum’s Lanterra has nine new downtown condo buildings (with more in the works), and Freed’s fiefdom at King and Bathurst is a stylish community that changed the market and the way city planners view that part of the city. SIZE MATTERS: The condo kings have made 600 square feet not just viable, but desirable.
10 | John Honderich, 66, John Cruickshank, 59, Michael Cooke, 60, Toronto Star
Honderich, chair of the biggest newspaper company in the country, is a force whose power lies at the intersection of media, politics and business. If you’re an aspiring politician, you want to have him onside. In 2008, he overhauled the management of the Star, hiring publisher John Cruickshank and editor Michael Cooke, long-time friends and colleagues who’d most recently worked together at the conservative Chicago Sun-Times. It was an inspired move. The pair is kicking the butt of every other paper in town. According to the most recent figures from NADbank, a readership data firm, the Star has 2.3 million readers in the GTA, more than double that of the Globe and Mail and Toronto Sun and nearly triple the National Post’s. That means over the course of a week, half of all the adults in the GTA read the Star either in print or online. SCOOP DREAMS: Cruickshank and Cooke have doubled down on investigative reporting, and the paper regularly breaks news stories (ORNGE scandals, TDSB maintenance costs) that set the agenda for the entire city. Who says print is dead?
11 | Gord Nixon, 55, Royal Bank of Canada
Last spring, when Dalton McGuinty was looking around for someone to head a task force to find $250 million in savings and solve the province’s pesky unemployment problem, he turned to Gord Nixon. It’s no surprise: the CEO and president of Canada’s biggest bank by market capitalization (and the world’s 12th largest) is a former investment banker whose risk-averse philosophy helped transform Canada into a financial Eden for investors terrified by the ongoing tumult in the U.S. and Europe. Since he took over, RBC’s earnings have risen from $2.2 billion in 2000 to some $6 billion this year. LADIES’ MAN: Honoured by Catalyst Canada for his support of women in the workplace. PART-TIME GIGS: Chairman of MaRS, co-chair of the Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council.
12 | George Cope, 51, BCE, Bell Canada
Since he took over as CEO of Bell in 2008, Cope has executed one savvy move after another. His first was wisely determining that the home phone business was dead and focusing his attention on TV, launching a broadband fibre-optic network. The CRTC rejected his $3.4-billion bid for Astral Media, but he succeeded at buying 37.5 per cent of MLSE, giving BCE a near monopoly on the city’s sports franchises. PART-TIME GIGS: On the advisory board of the Richard Ivey School of Business, a director of BMO.
13 | Kirstine Stewart, 45, CBC
It’s a perilous time to be a public broadcaster in this country. Over the past year, the CBC has come under attack on both the fiscal front (the feds’ 10 per cent budget cut) and the ideological front (the battle with Quebecor). Throughout the war, Stewart, the head of English CBC, has steered the Corp into ever more innovative and cost-efficient territory, a strategy that is now paying off: overall ad revenue was up nine per cent last year in an otherwise stagnant market, and CBC Music, a live-streaming music site launched in February, surpassed expectations, with millions of visitors in its first few months. TALENT SCOUT: She has handpicked a roster of popular on-air talent and is rebuilding the network’s sports cred after winning the rights to the 2014 and 2016 Olympics. (No more Brian Williams!)
14 | Peter Munk, 85, Barrick
Toronto’s very own Goldfinger may be an octogenarian, but he’s still as powerful—and divisive—as ever. Despite owning less than one per cent of Barrick these days, his impulsive firing of golden boy CEO Aaron Regent in June left little doubt as to who’s in charge. His board is a motley collection of Canadian and international elite, including playboy billionaire Nathaniel Rothschild, former Goldman Sachs CEO and chair of the Brookings Institute John Thornton, the economist Dambisa Moyo and Brian Mulroney. Munk’s name is on buildings—the Munk Cardiac Centre, the Munk School of Global Affairs—and in the minds of the intelligentsia when they attend the provocative and increasingly popular biannual Munk Debates. GAMBLING MAN: Last year, he bet heavily on copper when he acquired Equinox Minerals for $7.3 billion, a purchase that was rumoured to be a source of tension between him and Regent.
15 | Cameron Bailey, 49, Toronto International Film Festival
For this year’s TIFF, Bailey, the festival’s artistic director, hounded Hollywood super-agent Harvey Weinstein until he agreed to screen director Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master, promising to install a 70-millimetre projector (the film purist’s choice) at the Princess of Wales. The movie wound up being the most talked-about of the festival. Under Bailey, Toronto has become the place to premiere an Oscar-bait film (in 2012, 93 per cent of feature-length films were premieres). Since he’s taken the helm, audience attendance has steadily grown, and the festival has cemented its place as the city’s top cultural event. PART-TIME GIGS: Sits on awards juries around the world.
16 | Dwight Duncan, 53, Queen’s Park
Nothing tests a finance minister like a recession, and over the last few years, Duncan has been a powerful leader both inside and outside the legislature. When the federal government was dragging its feet on an auto sector bailout back in 2008, Duncan persuaded McGuinty, who in turn persuaded Harper, that not helping GM and Chrysler would turn the lights off in hundreds of thousands of Ontario homes. In speeches following the $4.8-billion bailout, the CAW leader Ken Lewenza told his constituents that if it weren’t for Duncan, they wouldn’t have jobs. Today, Duncan is being pilloried by another set of unions over legislation that would freeze public sector wages for two years. It’s the most sweeping labour reform legislation ever implemented in the country, and he’s determined to see it pass in the next budget. Although he won’t be running in the next election, you can be sure the minister who dragged the McGuinty Liberals to the right will land himself a plum post in the private sector.
17 | Geoff Beattie, 52, Woodbridge
The president of the Thomson family’s investment company merged Thomson and Reuters to create a megalithic business data provider that’s waging a war with Bloomberg for dominance of Wall Street. He also facilitated the donation of the Thomson art collection to the AGO, was the point man for wrangling Frank Gehry to redesign the gallery and orchestrated the creation of the Campbell Family Cancer Research Institute at the Princess Margaret Hospital. PART-TIME GIGS: Director of the Globe and Mail, trustee of the University Health Network and on the board of directors for RBC, Maple Leaf Foods and General Electric.
18 | Paul Godfrey, 73, OLG, National Post
As president and CEO of Postmedia, the publisher of the beleaguered National Post, Godfrey’s turnaround plan has included wooing big-name columnists Andrew Coyne from Maclean’s and Christie Blatchford from the Globe and relocating the paper’s offices from Don Mills to downtown. He was also McGuinty and Dwight Duncan’s chosen fix-it man, hired to right the scandal-plagued Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation and to cajole city council into green-lighting a downtown casino. PART-TIME GIGS: Chair of RioCan, vice-chair of the Baycrest Centre for Geriatric Care, on the boards of Mobilicity and Cargojet.
19 | Jaime Watt, 54, Navigator
The executive chairman of the PR firm Navigator is the consummate backroom dealer—highly connected, highly discreet, and seriously smart. He spins and strategizes for such heavyweights as Labatt, Bell, Rogers and Microsoft. Companies seek his expertise either because they need something from government or they need help shaping public opinion—or both. Word on the street is that Watt neutralized the listeria crisis for Maple Leaf Foods by helping run strategy and communications for president Michael McCain—from his quick apology to dealing with government regulators to settling class-action suits. He managed the aftermath of Michael Bryant’s fatal run-in with cyclist Darcy Sheppard—sprucing up the former Attorney General for his first press conference after being released from jail, controlling communications and doing whatever was necessary to make the story go away. Watt moves as smoothly through the corridors of Parliament as he does in the boardrooms of Bay Street—or in his roles as president of the Albany Club and on the boards of the St. Michael’s Hospital Foundation and Stratford. FRIENDS IN HIGH PLACES: Jim Flaherty, John Baird, Alison Redford and Peter Mansbridge.
20 | Bill Blair, 58, Toronto Police Service
Two years after the PR nightmare that was the G20 Summit, Blair has redeemed himself as a voice of calm amid a sea of hysteria over gun violence. His Summer Safety Initiative put an extra 329 cops on the streets in vulnerable neighbourhoods, contributing to a 62 per cent decline in homicides and a 50 per cent drop in gun violence. He also convinced all three heads of government that his strategy for solving the gang problem in Toronto—police outreach and early intervention, or what the mayor disdainfully dubs “hug-a-thug programs”—was the only viable long-term solution. McGuinty agreed, and gave Blair another $5 million in funding for his innovative community policing program, TAVIS. BUSINESS BUDDIES: The city’s first police chief who’s as comfortable hobnobbing with politicos and biz types as he is with his own rank and file. On a mission to persuade CEOs and social services community leaders to join forces and help train kids from priority neighbourhoods.
21 | Nadir Mohamed, 56, Rogers
The Rogers president’s negotiation of the MLSE deal won the company a major advantage in the intensifying battle for the lucrative Toronto sports market; Rogers now owns the Jays as well as a 37.5 per cent stake in the Leafs, the Raptors, Toronto FC and the Marlies, plus broadcast rights. Since he took over in 2009, the company’s top-line revenue has increased from $11.7 billion to $12.4 billion, and wireless subscribers have risen from 8.5 million to 9.3 million over the same period. PART-TIME GIGS: Member of TD’s board of directors and Ryerson’s board of governors. UP NEXT: Rogers credit cards (bank licence approval pending).
22 | David Mirvish, 67, Mirvish Productions
The staid, straightlaced son of Ed appeared positively giddy when he unveiled his Frank Gehry–designed vision for a boldly repurposed King Street theatre district featuring three 80-plus-storey condo towers, a museum and retail space. So what if it looks like a Bond villain’s lair? This year, he also launched an “Off-Mirvish” theatre series, a string of edgier alternative fare to fill a void left when his main competitor, Aubrey Dan, waved the white flag in July. We’re not sure what got into Mirvish in 2012, but we like it. MONOPOLY MONEY: Controls the Royal Alexandra, Princess of Wales and Ed Mirvish (formerly Canon) theatres.
23 | Joe Mimran, 60, Joe Fresh
The fashion entrepreneur launched his stylish discount chain just before the recession hit and the demand for low-cost clothing skyrocketed. Today, Joe Fresh is Canada’s number one apparel brand, by units sold and revenue. Mimran is opening 683 locations in J.C. Penney stores across the U.S. and four standalone stores in Manhattan, including a flagship location on Fifth Avenue. The brand is estimated to haul in an annual $1 billion in sales. H&M best watch its back. TOY TRIBUTE: Mattel made a special Joe Mimran Ken doll. Not even Karl Lagerfeld can say that.
24 | Bonnie Brooks, 59, The Bay
Since taking over as president in 2008, she has transformed the dumpy department chain into a trendy retailer that draws designer celebs (Sarah Jessica Parker, Jessica Simpson, Kim Kardashian) and society queens (Suzanne Rogers, Stacey Kimel, Suzanne Boyd). She scrapped underperforming brands, executed a $5-million gloss-up of The Room and focused on high-margin items like designer heels. The strategy appears to be working: fall 2011 was the Bay’s best-ever sales quarter. The Platinum Suite, a private room tucked away on the Bay’s third floor, is the site of frequent gossip-swapping among the front-row set, with Brooks as ringmaster. PART-TIME GIGS: Board member of Chapters-Indigo, the ROM and the province’s Job and Prosperity Council.
25 | Dale Lastman, 55, Goodmans LLP
Hardly a deal goes down in this town without his fingerprints on it. The non-furniture- shilling Lastman is a co-chair at Goodmans LLP and a valuable advisor to corporate titans like Larry Tanenbaum, whom he represented during the recent MLSE deal with Rogers and Bell. He’s universally respected, gigantically smart and painfully camera-shy—a combination that made him the only person in town capable of brokering the deal. PART-TIME GIGS: On the board of MLSE, an alternate NHL and NBA governor, and a trustee at RioCan and SickKids.
26 | Peter Oliver, 64, Michael Bonacini, 53, Oliver and Bonacini Restaurants
While the city was going bonkers over charcuterie, fish tacos and egg white–infused cocktails, Toronto’s top restaurateurs, Peter Oliver (the money guy) and Michael Bonacini (the food guy), were steadily building a restaurant empire based on quality and consistency—the same pillars that brought decades-long success with Canoe, Biff’s Bistro and Auberge du Pommier. Over the last three years, O&B has launched six restaurants (Luma, O&B Canteen, Bannock, and O&B Café Grills in Waterloo and at Front and Yonge) and five event spaces, including the epic $1.5-million reno of the Arcadian Court at the top of the Queen Street Bay, which they carefully restored to its art deco origins. In 2011, the company did some $65 million in sales. HAPPY MEAL: At full capacity, their restaurants can serve 3,900 people.
27 | Robert Bell, 61, University Health Network
Bell has craftily built the UHN into the top research hospital in the country. As president, he oversees the Toronto General, Toronto Western, Princess Margaret and Toronto Rehab hospitals, a sprawling network with more than 15,000 employees and over $252 million in annual research income. The orthopedic surgeon combines in-the-trenches experience with a business consultant’s nose for efficiency-hunting. In June, he wrangled $25 million from billionaire asset manager Eric Sprott to fund the UHN’s department of surgery. BELL OF THE BALL: The Grand Cru Culinary Wine Festival, a yearly benefit for the UHN, takes place in the homes of Toronto power players and attracts stars (Kiefer Sutherland, Lisa Ray, Tie Domi) and star chefs (Daniel Boulud, Scott Conant, David Lee, Massimo Capra, Claudio Aprile).
28 | Sheldon Levy, 63, Ryerson University
Aside from condo builders, few people have done more to reshape the downtown core. Through sheer force of will and the balls to phone up just about anyone and ask for cash, Levy has transformed a once lightweight polytechnic institute into a respected university. He rang up suburb king Peter Gilgan, the head of Mattamy Homes and a former Ryerson parent, and came away with a promise for $15 million. His is a folksy, casual pitch, but he’s got edge, too: when the federal government was late with its contribution to the overhaul of Maple Leaf Gardens, Levy told the press that if Ryerson students didn’t get their much-needed recreation centre, they’d have Harper to blame (the funds quickly came through). The resulting $60-million complex at the Gardens is a triumph, and Levy’s following it up with a $112-million student centre at the site of the old Yonge Street Sam the Record Man. It’s no accident that you don’t hear the name Rye High anymore. PART-TIME GIGS: Board member of the Fields Institute for Research in Mathematical Sciences and the Toronto Waterfront Revitalization Corporation; on the steering committee of the Greater Toronto CivicAction Alliance.
29 | Rahul Bhardwaj, 50, CEO, Toronto Community Foundation
The charismatic head of TCF—a charitable organization that manages more than 425 endowments and charitable funds worth more than $250 million—has quickly become a major force in the non-profit realm. He is both friend and foe to politicians, by turns praising and then criticizing government on everything from affordable housing to traffic congestion to the growing income divide. His annual Vital Signs report is the most reliable assessment of the state of the city in circulation and is widely used by government agencies and social services organizations. PART-TIME GIGS: Chair of the 2012 Ontario Summer Games, finance chair of George Brown College, on the board of Metrolinx.
30 | Susan Abramovitch, 45, Gowlings
She’s the city’s most sought-after entertainment lawyer, a job that involves dispensing legal advice to individuals and companies both large (EMI Records) and small (Secret City Records), and acting as a de facto agent, brand manager and chief confidante. Her clients are some of the biggest names in Canadian music, television and book publishing, including Bruce Cockburn, Measha Brueggergosman, Jann Arden, Amanda Lang, Kevin O’Leary, Jeanne Beker, Ann-Marie MacDonald and, yes, her ex-husband, Michael Bryant (she negotiated the contract on his tell-all book, 28 Seconds). GAME CHANGER: At the fore of the ever-evolving digital rights realm, she negotiates massive cross-border, cross-platform deals that set the tone for the music industry.
31 | Margaret Atwood, 73, Novelist
At an age when some people spend their afternoons napping, she is more energized than ever, and just as opinionated. She made headlines following her dustup with Doug Ford over the importance of reading, which inspired a grassroots “Atwood for Mayor” campaign. When the librarians went on strike, Atwood wrote to the Globe and Mail and mobilized her 312,000-person Twitter army to take to the picket line. She is mercilessly, relentlessly and elegantly persuasive. Provoke with caution. PART-TIME GIGS: Vice-president of PEN International, on the arts advisory panel for both the Toronto Arts Council and the Toronto Arts Foundation.
32 | Drake, 26, Musician
Aubrey Drake Graham has gone international, but that hasn’t dampened his crush on the city that raised him: he recently had a giant 416 tattooed on his torso, still keeps a condo at the St. Thomas, and gets his fade tightened by the same barber he went to when he was a Degrassi brat. He turned impresario with the Toronto OVO Fest, which stands for October’s Very Own (he was born on October 24; why must rappers be such egomaniacs?). He champions Toronto’s next wave of hip-hop artists—giving up-and-comer The Weeknd a prime-time slot—and brings his megastar pals Eminem, Jay-Z, Stevie Wonder, Nicki Minaj and Snoop to headline. UP NEXT: OVO 2013 is headed for the 55,000-capacity Rogers Centre, which should be big enough to contain the egos on the bill.
33 | Matthew Teitelbaum, 56, Art Gallery of Ontario
Since Teitelbaum became director, he has led the gallery through a $300-million Gehry expansion, added almost 60,000 new works to its permanent collection, including the Thomson trove, launched a string of successful exhibits, including Pablo Picasso (310,000 visitors) and King Tut (404,000 visitors), and reinforced the AGO’s status as the city’s top cultural hub. TASTEMAKER: His stamp of approval has elevated Shary Boyle, Kent Monkman and David Altmejd to the upper echelons of Canadian art.
34 | Ratna Omidvar, 63, Maytree Foundation
The president of Maytree is the city’s most dogged advocate for the underutilized skilled immigrant. She gets in the room with high-powered politicians and CEOs, and makes an incontrovertible economic case for diverse hiring practices and mentorship programs. Her biggest converts: former Manulife chief Dominic D’Alessandro, RBC’s Gord Nixon and TD’s Ed Clark. (TD has to date mentored 1,000 new immigrants through TRIEC, the Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council, where Omidvar serves as board chair.) GLOBAL APPEAL: Her DiverseCity onBoard project, a database of 1,500 qualified directorship candidates supplied by Omidvar to organizations looking to diversify their boards, is being replicated in cities around the world.
35 | Nigel Wright, 49, Prime Minister’s Office
He’s widely seen as the hardest-working guy in Canada, and he may be the first of Stephen Harper’s chiefs of staff with enough stamina to last more than two years on the job—assuming he keeps it after a conflict-of-interest probe. The PM’s right-hand man has close personal ties to some of the most high-powered businesspeople in the country, thanks to his previous post as a managing director at Onex—where he specialized in big-ticket aerospace, defence, transportation and energy deals. FRIENDS IN HIGH PLACES: Duncan Jackman, Tony and Peter Munk, John Tory, Rob Prichard and, of course, Gerry Schwartz.
36 | Prem Watsa, 62, Fairfax Financial Holdings
The soothsayer of Bay Street—whose company, Fairfax Financial, has $34 billion in assets—has made some interesting purchases recently. After snapping up William Ashley last year, Fairfax bought Prime Restaurants (owners of East Side Mario’s, Casey’s and Fionn MacCool’s) as well as a 75 per cent stake in uptown retailer Sporting Life, which it plans to roll out across the country. GAMBLING MAN: He doubled his shares in the embattled RIM this past July, making him the biggest shareholder in a company he believes will triumph in three to five years.
37 | Michael MacMillan, 56, Blue Ant Media
You know a guy has money to spare when he starts a charitable organization devoted to the elusive goal of improving “political and civic engagement” in Canada. Such is the case with MacMillan, who co-founded Samara two years after selling Alliance Atlantis to Canwest for a whopping $2.3 billion. (The timing was impeccable: the following year the markets collapsed, and the sale was the final nail in the coffin for the overextended Canwest.) After sitting on the sidelines for a spell, he’s back in the media game, launching Blue Ant Media in 2011 and going on an aggressive buying spree, scooping up GlassBox (owner of Bite TV, Aux and Travel and Escape), High Fidelity HDTV (owner of four high-def channels) and most recently, CBC’s Bold. Media giant Torstar took a $22.7-million 25 per cent stake in Blue Ant a year ago, betting that the man who helped build the specialty TV market in Canada is now inventing its future. FRIENDS IN HIGH PLACES: Along for the ride are old media friends and rivals turned angel investors in GlassBox, including broadcasting hall-of-famer Gary Slaight, CHUM alum Jay Switzer and Marcia Martin, Alliance Atlantis alum Ted Riley and Seaton McLean—who, with his wife, Sonja Smits, also co-owns the successful Prince Edward County vineyard Closson Chase with MacMillan.
38 | Clayton Ruby, 70, Ruby Shiller Chan Hasan Barristers
Toronto’s most high-profile lawyer is an unrepentant media chaser who never met a headline he didn’t like. Ruby, who in his 43-year career has defended, among others, pit bull owners, the Church of Scientology and Omar Khadr’s brother Abdurahman, proved he still has it when he skewered Rob Ford at the mayor’s conflict-of-interest hearing this fall. If this were a list of Toronto’s most feared, Ruby would easily be in the top five. UP NEXT: He’s suing the Ontario government and Peel and Toronto Police Services for unlawful arrests during the G20.
39 | Karen Stintz, 42, City Hall
A gag reel’s worth of head-scratching public gaffes quickly proved our new mayor politically toxic, and by early 2012, just about everyone at city hall except for Ford’s most loyal lieutenants was looking elsewhere for direction. They found it in Stintz, the centre-right TTC chair, who showed backbone and a flair for the dramatic when she turned on the mayor to push through her light-rail transit alternative in February. CAMPAIGN PLANS: Stintz downplays her mayoral ambitions, but a May 2012 poll gave her 10 points on Ford in a head-to-head battle. If those numbers hold, she might be appointing her own TTC chair in 2014.
40 | Alan Lenczner, 69, Lenczner Slaght, Sheila Block, 65, Torys, Chris Paliare, 68, Paliare Roland
Lenczner is the dean of Toronto litigators, a fearsome trial lawyer who had the unenviable task of defending our near-indefensible mayor in his conflict-of-interest case this year. His boutique firm is known for its blue-chip clients and for wooing his old chum and former Supreme Court justice Ian Binnie to its roster. Block is one of the sharpest litigators in the country, serving as lead counsel on a recently dismissed $5-billion class action against CIBC and a $100-million suit brought by thousands of Barbadians against Manulife. She’s also acting for Associate Chief Justice Lori Douglas in the inquiry looking into the judge’s role in a notorious sex scandal. The lawyer acting for the Canadian Superior Courts Judges Association in that case is Paliare, who has a stellar record handling multi-million-dollar commercial suits and precedent-setting public law cases. (He even had the pleasure of cross-examining Stephen Harper over the Chuck Cadman affair in 2008; the PM subsequently dropped his defamation suit against Paliare’s client, the Liberal party.) But his most interesting work happens behind the scenes, advising companies and CEOs (as well as fellow lawyers and judges) in highly sensitive matters requiring the utmost discretion.
41 | Amanda Lang, 42, CBC News
Lang is widely considered the heir apparent to Peter Mansbridge’s throne, and perhaps sooner than later. CBC News’s senior business correspondent is self-taught in the racket (she has a BA in architecture), but she has proven a natural in her role as the less obnoxious half of daytime business show The Lang and O’Leary Exchange. She can fill a room like few others, as she demonstrated when she hosted a star-studded bash for pal Ali Velshi’s book launch in February at her Forest Hill home. FRIENDS IN HIGH PLACES: As the daughter of Otto Lang, a former federal Liberal cabinet minister, she’s connected to the upper echelons of the city’s political circles.
42 | Albert Schultz, 49, Soulpepper
He opened his Distillery District theatre company in 1998 with $700,000 and a two-play summer gig at Harbourfront. Today the company has a budget of $8 million and an endowment of $5 million, 450 performances a year and a beautiful, permanent home, the Young Centre for the Performing Arts. Most of this is due to Schultz’s talent for turning arts lovers into arts patrons. Soulpepper’s donor list is a who’s who in Toronto. The Soulpepper Academy, a yearlong paid performance residency that he created, is a breeding ground for playwrights and performers like Ins Choi, who made good this year with Kim’s Convenience, which earned two Dora Mavor nods. PART-TIME GIGS: On the advisory council of Ryerson’s Arts and Contemporary Studies.
43 | Jose Bautista, 32, Toronto Blue Jays
Bautista’s emergence as one of baseball’s most acclaimed players roused long-dormant Jays fans from their slumber and was a major reason average attendance for home games went from 20,000 in 2010 to 26,000 this year. Before he suffered a wrist injury in July, he was tied for the second-most home runs in the league and came second in the home run derby (an annual competition of power hitters). He’s got the makings of a megastar: he was the cover boy for the Canadian edition of Major League Baseball’s official video game, and bared his sculpted buttocks for ESPN. NAME BRAND: Despite Bautista’s long absence, his jersey was the team’s top 2012 seller.
44 | Carol Wilding, 53, Board of Trade
She helms the 10,000-member Board of Trade (representing some 200,000 professionals who annually contribute more than $50 billion to the local economy) and has the ears of Bay Street’s top moguls. From her pulpit, she lectures city hall and Queen’s Park on transit, infrastructure, municipal governance and corporate tax reform. Hawkish on taxes yet bullish on transit, she’s Metrolinx’s biggest ally, the key connector between the government agency and whatever private sector financing will be required for major transit expansions. SIDEKICK: VP of policy Richard Joy—the former Queen’s Park staffer responsible for the City of Toronto Act—who understands the inner workings of city-province relations better than anyone.
45 | Brad Martin, 56, Random House of Canada
When Random House officially took over McClelland and Stewart earlier this year, Martin’s coronation as the king of the Canadian publishing industry was complete. Now, the biggest names—and egos—in the book world reside under one roof at the company’s headquarters on Toronto Street, where M&S publisher Doug Pepper and editor Ellen Seligman joined a heavyweight team of VPs, including Louise Dennys of Knopf and Kristin Cochrane of Doubleday. Martin, of course, is the master of all. He’s also on the management board for parent company Bertelsmann. UP NEXT: A new M&S lecture series, a joint venture with the University of Toronto.
46 | Mary Jo Haddad, 56, SickKids
Her ascent from assistant manager in the neonatal ICU to president and CEO of the entire hospital is legendary. Since she took over in 2004, SickKids’ total annual revenue has grown by $190 million to a staggering $725 million. She spearheaded the new $400-million, 21-storey facility, which will bring 2,000 researchers and staff under one roof at the corner of Bay and Elm when it opens next fall. PART-TIME GIGS: Chair of the MaRS Innovation board and the Provincial Council for Maternal Child Health, a board member of the Council of Academic Hospitals of Ontario and the Toronto Academic Health Sciences Network, and a lecturer at the Rotman School of Business.
47 | Shaun Francis, 42, Medcan Clinic
His business is keeping the captains of industry healthy at his private medical clinic, the biggest in the country. Medcan is known for its “executive medical,” a $2,550 four-hour preventative assessment typically paid for by an exec’s company. (In 2010, Medcan discovered undiagnosed ailments in 35 per cent of its clients, including 49 cancers. Caveat emptor.) The clinic also offers a $500 yearly membership of sorts, which gives patients access to top-notch specialists and shorter wait times for procedures not available on-site. CHARITY CIRCUIT: Behind True Patriot Love, which raised $2.6 million last year for military families. Supporters include Frank McKenna, Larry Tanenbaum, Hilary Weston and Howard Sokolowski.
48 | Russell Peters, 42, Comedian
For a while, Chris Rock’s 2010 characterization of Russell Peters as “the most famous person nobody’s ever heard of” was apt. No more. In the last two years, Peters has rocketed to acclaim as an unabashed ridiculer of races (usually his own) and an unofficial global ambassador for the Toronto brand of multiculturalism. Forbes ranked him the world’s seventh-highest-earning comedian in 2010. GLOBAL APPEAL: His 2012 World Tour included stops in South Africa, Dubai, Singapore and Jakarta.
49 | Don Guy, 47, Artisan Research
McGuinty’s former chief of staff now runs his own downtown communications consulting firm. He advises corporations and politicians both here and south of the border. He was the mastermind behind the Libs’ last three successful provincial campaigns and, until McGuinty stepped down, was his trusted advisor—the two men talked almost daily. His fingerprints are all over the legislature—he personally recruited Glen Murray and Deb Matthews, both would-be McGuinty successors. PART-TIME GIG: Treasurer of the InterAction Council, a group of prominent former heads of state that includes Bill Clinton, Vicente Fox and Jean Chrétien.
50 | Sarah Polley, 33, Filmmaker
She’s an uncompromising artist. Even as an actor, she played by her own rules, carefully selecting her roles and refusing to be sucked into the Hollywood machine. This year, she became the city’s most talked-about director after releasing two films: Take This Waltz, a romance starring indie darlings Michelle Williams and Seth Rogen, and Stories We Tell, a documentary about a family secret, which is already being touted as a 2014 Oscar contender. The NFB gave Polley carte blanche to make the doc, and she even managed to control the media’s coverage of it, convincing outlets like the Globe and Mail and Maclean’s not to report on her family’s story before the film’s completion. Spoiler alert: Polley’s dad is not her biological father. UP NEXT: An adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s period novel Alias Grace.