The Influentials 2022
Our annual ranking of the people whose bravery, smarts and clout are changing the world as we know it
After two years of Covid-induced mayhem, Toronto spent 2022 chasing stability. Voters handed Doug Ford a second term. John Tory won a third. The city’s proverbial dial stayed tuned to the comforting sound of Drake doing what he always does: crushing streaming records like they’re overpriced bottles of champagne. If you closed your eyes and plugged your ears, this year felt oddly normal. But, as the pandemic abated, new hazards emerged. Everything went up: the price of gas, the cost of feeding a family, the possibility of a third world war. (One notable exception: the Rogers network, which very much went down.) Lion-hearted journalists uncovered disturbing truths about the country’s most cherished sport, and Indigenous activists refused to let Canadians—or the Pope—ignore the darkest chapters of the nation’s past. The most important people of 2022 were the deal makers, risk takers and policy shapers who tackled these crises head on. But just as influential were all the Torontonians who represented the city on the world stage: a Jeopardy!-winning whiz kid, a brilliant Pixar animator, a dream team of soccer phenoms and, in our number one spot, a certain actor who’s redefining what it means to be a superstar.
Not long ago, Liu was what you might lovingly call “Canadian famous”—a homegrown treasure best known for acting in the hit CBC series Kim’s Convenience. Today, he’s an undisputed global superstar, hosting SNL, dominating Celebrity Jeopardy! and walking the runway at Rihanna’s fashion show. Some of the credit for Liu’s explosive rise goes to Marvel, which had the wisdom to cast him as its first Asian superhero. But the rest is all Liu. Since Shang-Chi hit theatres (and grossed more than $580 million), he’s packed his schedule tighter than a 501 streetcar. On top of filming four feature films, Liu hosted the Junos, signed up to design a downtown condo, published a bestselling memoir and enlisted Jeremy Lin and Hasan Minhaj to play in his celebrity basketball game. He’s not only starring in the upcoming Amazon Prime series Seven Wonders; he’s also shaping the show as one of its executive producers. These feats would be impressive enough if Liu’s goal was simply to entertain. But he has a greater mission: to bolster Asian representation in Hollywood and give millions of kids the kind of role model he never had.✽ Read our full feature profile of Simu Liu ✽
Governor, Bank of Canada
Inflation, it’s often said, is a problem from hell. People hate when prices go up, but they balk when central bankers do what they must to keep prices down. The man managing this demonic file is Tiff Macklem, a mild-mannered bureaucrat whose decisions affect every homeowner, debtor, investor, motorist and grocery shopper. He hiked the key rate from 0.25 to 3.75 per cent, a level unseen in 14 years. The move will cause short-term pain, but Macklem hopes it will cool consumer demand, thereby reducing prices and giving lagging supply chains a chance to catch up. Pundits on the right have branded Macklem a betrayer of working people, and Pierre Poilievre has vowed to fire him if he makes it to the PMO, but Macklem remains unfazed. “We welcome criticism of our work,” he responded blandly to Poilievre’s threat, confident that the crisis would blow over. Since June, the inflation rate has fallen from 8.1 to 6.9 per cent, suggesting that he may be right.
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What does it say about Doug Ford, a once-ultra-divisive politician, that voters re-elected him with an even larger mandate? Sure, turnout was low and the opposition was weak, but you have to hand it to the guy: he guided the province through the worst public health crisis in a century and earned many Ontarians’ trust in the process. Yes, he was condemned for evading testimony over the so-called Freedom Convoy protests, and he lost the battle against CUPE, repealing his government’s anti-strike legislation like a dog with its tail between its legs. But, against all odds, the province ended the last fiscal year with a $2.1-billion surplus, and Ford has set aside money for major infrastructure investments: hospitals in Brampton and Mississauga, subway lines in Toronto, a new highway north of the GTA. He plans to fix our over-burdened health care system by, among other things, fast-tracking accreditation for internationally trained health workers and funding tuition for nurses who agree to work in under-served regions.
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Minister of finance and deputy prime minister
Is there any challenge Freeland can’t meet? She manages the federal budget, chairs the cabinet in the PM’s absence and aces every task thrown her way. When Putin invaded Ukraine, she convinced world leaders to freeze $640 billion (US) of the Russian central bank’s assets. Meanwhile, she brokered affordable-child-care agreements with the provinces. When an irate Albertan bombarded her with insults this summer, she responded by praising the province for its otherwise warm welcome. Her composure sent a clear message to her aggressor: I’ve stared down bigger bullies than you.
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No matter how high he rises, Drake continues to rep his hometown as if he worked for the tourism department. This summer, before he and Lil Yachty released a new line of OVO-branded U of T swag, he brought some of the biggest names in R&B and hip hop—including Lil Wayne and Nicki Minaj—to the Budweiser Stage for his sold-out OVO Fest. (Resale tickets went for more than $2,000.) The 2022 edition also featured a show at History, his east-end venue, devoted entirely to OG Canadian rappers like Choclair and Kardinal Offishall. But clothing and concerts remain a side hustle: for Drake, the studio comes first. On his surprise album, Honestly, Nevermind—which was streamed 250 million times in its first week—he forged a magnetic new sound, incorporating dance genres from South Africa and the Baltimore club scene. Unwilling to coast on its success, he teamed up with 21 Savage to drop another record, Her Loss, in November. And his biggest hit of the year—“Staying Alive,” a Bee Gees–inspired collab with DJ Khaled—broke yet another record held by the Beatles.
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By the end of his third term, John Tory will be Toronto’s longest-serving mayor by a one-year margin. (You had a good run, Art Eggleton.) But Tory cemented his place in civic history well before winning the election. He led one of the most successful vaccine campaigns in the world; he secured billions in provincial and federal funding for transit and housing plus more than $90 million for mom-and-pop businesses; and, after he asked the province for more power, Queen’s Park ushered in the strong-mayor system, which gives His Worship executive authority to, among other things, greenlight certain projects without council’s support. Such a law would have been a risky gambit under, say, a certain unnamed predecessor, but it’s a recipe for efficiency under Tory. He’s not flashy, emotional or particularly charismatic, but maybe that’s the kind of leader Toronto needs in a crisis: an avuncular Red Tory who can appeal to both the suburbs and downtown.
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Minister of national defence
When Anita Anand inherited the national defence portfolio, she had to embark on a complete overhaul of the sexist and chronically underfunded Canadian Armed Forces. Then came Putin. She’s been unwavering in her support for Ukraine, providing more than $600 million worth of military training, artillery, drones and comms equipment. A thorny portfolio that keeps getting thornier is nothing new to Anand, who, in her last role, sourced Covid tests, PPE, ventilators and roughly 400 million vaccines. She’s a calm, pragmatic problem solver. And you know what happens when you keep getting the job done: they give you bigger, trickier jobs, which is why she’s being eyed as leadership material for when the biggest job in the Liberal Party opens up.
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The irony of LaFlamme’s first post-CTV gig was richer than an English trifle: there was the unflappable broadcaster, reporting for CityNews, covering the death of a woman who kept her job until 96. “This is the end of an era,” LaFlamme proclaimed against the backdrop of Big Ben—speaking of Her Majesty but also summing up her own reign, which came to an abrupt halt when her network of 35 years sacked her. LaFlamme described being “blindsided” in a two-minute video that went viral, sparking a vital conversation about ageism and misogyny. If LaFlamme was beloved before, she’s now a certified icon. More than 70 Canadian heavyweights, from Sarah McLachlan to Roméo Dallaire, published an open letter in protest of her dismissal, and Wendy’s changed the colour of its mascot’s hair to grey in solidarity.
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Federal leader, NDP
This year, despite the NDP holding fewer seats than every other major federal party, Singh totally reshaped Parliament Hill. He masterminded an alliance with the Liberals that forces Trudeau to move on the NDP’s priorities—a national dental-care program and housing support—if he wants to realize any of his own ambitions. Under the pact, which also robs the Conservatives and Bloc Québécois of significant power, the Liberals have until the end of 2022 to implement a dental-care program for kids under 12; next year, Singh wants it to extend to kids under 18, people with disabilities and seniors. The country’s most-liked federal leader (seriously, there was a poll) has kept the pressure on, calling out callous political behaviour both in the House of Commons and via the snappy TikTok videos he shares with his nearly 900,000 followers.
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CEO and president, TIFF
After decades at TIFF, Bailey is now the lone CEO, and his first solo fest did not disappoint. As his opening act, he leveraged his industry clout to snag the world’s most coveted premiere, Steven Spielberg’s The Fabelmans, from competing festivals. (As the director of Venice’s film fest griped, “That one got away from everyone.”) Bailey then stuffed the remainder of his 200-feature program with other Oscar contenders—including Women Talking, The Swimmers and Glass Onion—that attracted hungry buyers like Netflix and the New York distribution powerhouse Neon. TIFF drew celebs like Daniel Craig and Taylor Swift plus thousands of industry insiders, journalists and cinephiles, contributing millions of dollars to a tourism sector still reeling from the pandemic.
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At the beginning of 2022, the celebrity chef had four restaurants, a handful of YouTube shows and two cookbooks. But, for Matheson, a whole lot is never enough. In May, he and chef Coulson Armstrong opened Prime Seafood Palace, a very grown-up steakhouse with a stunning wood-clad interior and an even better menu. He co-produced The Bear, FX’s buzzy, too-real-for-chefs-to-watch kitchen confidential, and then showed up in the series as the lovable handyman and wannabe cook Neil Fak. In August, he launched Rosa Rugosa, a Parkdale-produced line of clean and crisp workwear, and then followed that up by partnering with Harry Rosen to promote a line of customizable menswear.
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Chief medical officer of health
Around this time last year, when everyone was still figuring out how to pronounce “Omicron,” there was a nagging sense that Covid might stick around forever. But things changed for the better in 2022. Under Moore’s stewardship, Ontario achieved one of the highest immunization rates in the world: more than 87 per cent of the eligible population has received at least two jabs. (Uptake in the US and UK remains in the 70s.) Moore also managed to pull off what once seemed like an impossible task: ending lockdowns, opening businesses and eliminating masking and isolation mandates while keeping everyone relatively safe. As a result of his decisions and patient guidance, Ontarians mostly weathered waves five, six and seven with grace.
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CEO, Penguin Random House Canada
If you read a great new book this year, there’s a good chance Kristin Cochrane published it. As CEO of the country’s largest publisher, she and her team of 280 employees release roughly 500 Canadian books a year, including five of the past six Giller winners. This year, Penguin Random House Canada and its 20 distinct imprints put out blockbuster novels by John Irving and Sheila Heti, moving memoirs from Sarah Polley and Hayley Wickenheiser, first-time sensations from YA writer Xiran Jay Zhao and editor-turned-novelist Nita Prose, as well as crucial Indigenous stories by Jesse Thistle and Jody Wilson-Raybould. These titles don’t just dominate bookstore shelves and bestseller lists—they also help determine which issues matter to activists and MPs.
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Chairman, Rogers Communications
Late last year, when Edward Rogers wrested control of his family’s business in a drama of Shakespearean proportions, no one knew he’d soon preside over one of the most tumultuous years in Rogers history. But heavy is the head, as they say. It’s a gargantuan empire: 23,000 employees; 11 million telecom customers; nearly $15 billion in annual revenue; and a cornucopia of TV channels, radio stations and sports franchises. Still, Rogers is determined to supersize by purchasing competitor Shaw for $26 billion. When the Competition Bureau tried to block the megamerger, the telcos got creative, agreeing to sell off one of Shaw’s subsidiaries, Freedom Mobile, to allay anti-competition concerns. Sure, this summer’s Great Blackout, during which the whole Rogers system went kablooey, precipitated a PR crisis. But the outage—and its attendant delays and closures—only underscored just how much we all rely on Rogers and the man at its helm.
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Over a decade into his unstoppable career, The Weeknd (a.k.a. Scarborough’s Abel Tesfaye) is arguably the biggest name in pop music. After 90 weeks on Billboard’s Top 100 chart, his single “Blinding Lights” edged out Chubby Checker’s “The Twist” to become the most dominant song in music history. Then came Dawn FM, a concept album that reimagines purgatory as a late-night radio show: the DJ (Tesfaye’s LA neighbour Jim Carrey) plays melancholy synth tunes while guiding dead souls to the afterlife. Plenty of critics called it The Weeknd’s best, and listeners seemed to agree: it was streamed 173 million times in its first week. As always, he has an assortment of non-musical ventures on the go: he helped design a Weeknd-themed haunted maze at Universal Studios and co-created The Idol, an upcoming HBO series about a female pop star who falls for an eccentric cult leader—played, of course, by Tesfaye.
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Director, the Citizen Lab
Are you a smartphone user at risk of highly targeted cyberattacks from state-sponsored spyware? Probably not, but Ron Deibert has your back anyway. Citizen Lab, the interdisciplinary research institute he founded in 2001, is one of the internet’s de facto watchdogs and a long-time defender of the little guy against oppressive, invasive regimes. Last year, Deibert and his team of cybersleuths uncovered that Israel was snooping on Palestinian activists using spyware called Pegasus. As a result, Apple worked with Deibert to launch Lockdown Mode, an “extreme” privacy feature purpose built to block mercenary spyware. The fact that a private citizen like Deibert could influence Apple’s OS design is a big deal—and a paradigm shift for the tech behemoth, which invested a lot in a feature designed to help a select few. Save the dissidents, save the world.
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Director, Canada Soccer
When Canada, the US and Mexico won a joint bid to host the 2026 World Cup, Bob Richardson, COO of Toronto’s 2008 Olympic bid and now a member of Canada Soccer’s board, made sure Toronto would be one of the venues.
How did you make it happen?
I set up a meeting between Canada Soccer and John Tory. We had to convince him that, if Canada was going to host the World Cup, Toronto needed to be part of it. Fortunately, Tory realized it would be a great opportunity to showcase the city. Then we submitted a formal application to FIFA, highlighting Toronto’s size, diversity, economic strength and growing soccer culture.
What sort of impact will the World Cup have on the city?
Obviously, it will be amazing to see Canada play on home turf. We’ll add 17,000 seats to BMO Field and build new training pitches across the GTA, infrastructure that can be used for years to come. There will also be a bump to tourism during the tournament—hotel stays, restaurant revenues, that sort of thing.
Do you think Canada has a shot in Qatar?
We haven’t played in a World Cup for 36 years, so it’s a thrill just to participate. But I expect us to do very well. Tajon Buchanan, a 23-year-old from Brampton, is one of my favourite players. He’s going to be a force for us over the next decade.
How are your own soccer skills?
The last time I played was as a kid growing up in Montreal. So let me put it this way: if being on the board were based on soccer performance, I would never have gotten the gig.
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godmother of CanLit
At age 84, Atwood is still everywhere. She helped the National Ballet of Canada transform her post-apocalyptic trilogy, MaddAddam, into the dance premiere of the year. She published Burning Questions, a bestselling collection of essays about Trump, #MeToo, Covid and virtually every other topic that has mattered over the past 17 years. She launched an online course about how to build utopias, and Hulu renewed its TV adaptation of her dystopian masterpiece, The Handmaid’s Tale, for a sixth and final season. Her dizzyingly productive year also included writing a story for a graphic novel inspired by Tori Amos’s 2022 album, Little Earthquakes. Atwood’s face is now even on a Canada Post stamp. Only legends make it onto stamps, and Atwood certainly qualifies.
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Chairman and CEO, Universal Music Canada
In 2022, Universal dropped not one but two Drake albums, released a chart-topping Weeknd record, and signed new multimillion-dollar deals with both Aubrey and Abel. And those weren’t even the highlights of Remedios’s year. Several years ago, he resolved to open a new HQ for the Canadian arm of the world’s biggest music company, dragging John Tory to LA in order to convince Universal’s American overlords to make the necessary investment. Seven years and one pandemic later, the new digs are open for business. J. Cole and Feist have already stopped by the sleek mass-timber complex to check out its state-of-the-art recording studio. Shawn Mendes filmed a music video in the concert hall, and Dave Grohl popped in to jam with the surviving members of Rush. Following Remedios’s lead, Sony Music is moving its Canadian operations to Liberty Village, establishing the area as the country’s new sonic epicentre.
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The Anishinaabe journalist is one of Canada’s most respected voices on Indigenous issues thanks to two national bestsellers—Seven Fallen Feathers and All Our Relations—her regular Globe and Mail columns and a turn as a Massey lecturer. After the chilling discovery of unmarked graves on former residential school grounds, she called on Pope Francis to apologize for the Catholic church’s catastrophic treatment of Indigenous people. When he did—first from the Vatican, then in First Nations communities across Canada—Talaga kept applying pressure, rightly pointing out that atonement is more meaningful when accompanied by action. She’s now pushing for the church to release documents showing burial locations. If the Holy See complies, it will be in no small part because of her relentless work.
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When Poilievre launched his leadership bid, he called his former girlfriend Jenni Byrne, a cutthroat mastermind who has orchestrated the rise and fall of Canada’s most powerful conservative politicians. She was Harper’s go-to aide, the architect of Doug Ford’s ascent to Queen’s Park and the naysayer who sunk Erin O’Toole’s chances of reaching office. Now, as Poilievre’s most trusted adviser, she shapes his populist messaging: skewering “elites,” pandering to conspiracy theorists, granting interviews to Jordan Peterson instead of to the CBC (which Poilievre, of course, wants to defund). Dangerous? Maybe. Effective? Definitely. Poilievre and Byrne say they’ve enlisted some 310,000 new party members, more than all of 2020’s Conservative candidates combined.
Westhead is a different breed of sports journalist. While others obsess over stats and lineup shuffles, the TSN reporter fearlessly chases stories about unionization, concussions and sexual misconduct. Earlier this year, he received a tip about a lawsuit alleging that eight Canadian Hockey League players had sexually assaulted a woman inside a London, Ontario, hotel in 2018. His diligent reporting revealed much more: attempts to cover up the incident and others like it, slush funds to protect perpetrators, and a putrid culture at the highest ranks of Hockey Canada. The revelations precipitated a reckoning at every level of hockey, from NHL All-Stars down to the peewee leagues. Hockey Canada’s CEO and board have all been ousted, and Tim Hortons, Scotiabank, Nike and others have dropped their sponsorships.
Photo by Josh Kim
Usually, when pop stars cancel concerts, irate fans throw tantrums on Twitter. When Mendes called off a year-long world tour to focus on his well-being, something different happened: he was heralded as a mental health hero pushing back against the merciless grind of the music industry. Instead of wasting away on the road, Mendes spent 2022 living on his own terms. He bounced back from a breakup with Camila Cabello, starred in a steamy Tommy Hilfiger campaign and made his Hollywood debut, voicing the lead lizard in the wholesome family flick Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile. His most radical act? Taking it easy. Every so often, fans catch glimpses of him downtown—walking his dog, sitting in the park and showing the city his newfound zen.
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Attorney general, Ontario
Every year, Canadians make $14 billion worth of bets through illegal and offshore sportsbooks. In 2021, the feds decided it was time the government took a slice of that pie by legalizing single-game sports betting. In Ontario, the task of rolling out this new regime fell to Doug Downey. He hired an international gaming expert; consulted gamblers, casinos, law enforcement and other stakeholders; and then, in April, launched iGaming Ontario. In its first six months of operations, more than 600,000 users placed $6 billion worth of wagers, generating $267 million in revenue for the province. Now, Downey is fielding calls from other provinces and states as they try to set up their own online gaming operations.
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Even before placing a single sneakered foot on the court at Scotiabank Arena, the freshman from Florida State won the hearts of his adopted hometown, dancing his way onto the stage on draft day and throwing the ceremonial first pitch at a Jays game. When he did start playing, it was clear that the city’s enthusiasm had been well placed. Barnes’s stats (an average of 15-plus points and 7.5 rebounds per game) are impressive, and his versatility (from power forward to point guard and back again) makes him a near-impossible matchup for opposing teams. An ankle injury got in the way of his post-season performance but didn’t stop him from winning Rookie of the Year. (“You’re up next, bro,” said Vince Carter, one of only two other Raps to ever earn the honour, in a taped message of congratulations.) This year, Barnes showed up at training camp with an additional 10 pounds of muscle on his already tanker-truck frame. If his added bulk is any indication, this year’s Scottie Barnes is planning to leave last year’s Scottie Barnes in his dust.
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Animator and director
Shi made history with Turning Red, the first Pixar film directed solely by a woman. It was streamed for more than 28 million hours in its opening weekend, a record for a Disney Plus original. That’s a lot of eyeballs on Shi’s vision of Toronto, a pastel-coloured multicultural dreamland full of magic and possibility. Shi is now VP of creative at Pixar, which means she helps select and shape productions that will be devoured by millions of families around the world.
CEO, Daily Bread Food Bank
Runaway food prices drove a record 180,000 visitors to Daily Bread every month this year. To keep up, Hetherington and his team of 88 full-time staff ramped up fundraising and served more food than ever: 50 tonnes daily at 183 sites across the city. All the while, he lobbied politicians to address the core issues driving food insecurity—poverty, unaffordable housing, inadequate disability supports—in hopes that, some day, Torontonians won’t need his services anymore.
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Baig is the first queer, South Asian and Muslim actor to lead a Canadian prime-time series. But their show, Sort Of, is so effortlessly good that you forget it’s making history. The deadpan dramedy earned three Canadian Screen Awards, a Peabody and a spot on must-watch lists around the world. The sleeper hit also catapulted Baig—its star, co-creator and co-writer—to global fame. Time, for one, named Baig one of its Next Generation Leaders for bringing complex, authentic representation to a TV landscape that’s often still too white, too straight and too boring.
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President, Toronto Metropolitan University
As if safely bringing 45,000 students back to campus wasn’t enough work, Lachemi also rebranded his entire institution this year. The school’s namesake—Egerton Ryerson, a key player in the development of residential schools—was a source of tension for years, but when hundreds of unmarked graves were discovered near former school sites, Lachemi acted fast. He struck a task force to lead the renaming process, narrowed 2,600 suggestions down to three finalists, then got the board to sign off on his pick: Toronto Metropolitan University. It’s not the most riveting moniker, but it signals the start of a more inclusive era for the 75-year-old institution. It was also a powerful act of reconciliation that set an example for other problematically named institutions.
Photo by May Truong
Director and author
Polley has made a career out of processing bleak subject matter—adultery, dementia, death, generational trauma—into artistic masterpieces. This year, she served audiences a double dose of such magic. In March, her nationally bestselling memoir, Run Towards the Danger, empathetically dissected her life’s greatest challenges, including the danger she faced as a child actor on director Terry Gilliam’s set. (Gilliam apologized but denied that she was ever in any real danger.) In September, her film Women Talking, about the aftermath of sexual assault in a Mennonite colony, finished second only to Spielberg for TIFF’s People’s Choice Award. The movie attracted apex acting talent including Frances McDormand, Rooney Mara and Claire Foy. Expect considerable Oscar buzz come 2023.
Photo by Derek Shapton
The 27-year-old striker from Brampton is Team Canada’s all-time leading scorer—and a big reason the squad is headed to Qatar. Here, he recalls the moment they clinched a spot in the World Cup.
“Growing up in the 2000s, I always dreamed of playing in the World Cup. It seemed like a long shot, though. At the time, Canada wasn’t really a soccer country. We hadn’t qualified since 1986.But, over the years, the team improved, thanks in part to a highly skilled group of players from the GTA, including our team captain, Atiba Hutchinson, and the talented young winger Jahkeele Marshall-Rutty.
“Earlier this year, we had a chance to punch our ticket to the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. It was simple: beat Jamaica in a game at BMO Field and we were in. It was freezing that day, cold and windy. But the Canadian fans were out in full force, almost 30,000 people packing the stadium, screaming and waving flags.
“In the 13th minute of the game, one of my teammates, Stephen Eustáquio, corralled the ball in Jamaica’s half. I snuck behind the Jamaican defenders, waiting for a moment to strike. When Eustáquio slipped a perfect pass through the crowd, I chased the ball down and knocked it into the net, past the sprawling Jamaican goalkeeper. That put us in control, and we eventually won 4–0.
“After the game, my wife brought my kids down onto the pitch. They were all bundled up against the cold. It was one of the greatest moments of my life, having my family there to celebrate, in the middle of the frenzied crowd, with Canada once again among the global soccer elite. And, when the big tournament kicks off, my childhood dream—once a distant possibility—will finally come true.”
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CEO, Mattamy Homes
No one has donated more money to Canadian hospitals than the home-building billionaire Peter Gilgan. Here is a tally of some of his largest gifts.
Trillium Health Partners | 2022
To build a new hospital in Mississauga
SickKids | 2019
To build a new family patient care tower
St. Michael’s Hospital | 2014
To build a new hospital wing
Women’s College Hospital | 2017
To launch a women’s cancer care and research program
St. Joseph’s Health Centre | 2017
To improve service delivery and quality
Women’s College Hospital | 2014
To help build a new hospital campus
Commissioner of Competition, Competition Bureau Canada
Boswell, the man deciding the fate of the $26-billion Rogers-Shaw merger, is not one to shy away from a fight. He rode into his role in 2019 like an anti-trust cowboy, more aggressive and less risk-averse than his predecessors. Now, he has Section 96 of the Competition Act on his mind. The efficiencies defence, as it’s known, allows mergers to proceed if company savings (in the form of, say, redundancies) outweigh the impact on competition (in this case, higher phone bills for 12 million users). Fun stuff. So far, Boswell has fought back, forcing Shaw to offload Freedom Mobile to Quebecor. If he sticks to his guns—a big if given that only six takeovers, including this one, have been contested since 1986—he could help Canada get in line with an international shift toward stronger anti-trust enforcement.
Kouvalis has never held a press conference, passed a bill or balanced a budget, yet he holds more sway over Ontario politics than most MPPs. A savvy behind-the-scenes strategist, he uses his giant invisible hand and extensive market research apparatus to tip the political scales in favour of his clients. This year, he stealthily advised both John Tory and Doug Ford, providing the polling data and focus-group findings that shaped their re-election campaigns. His empire is growing: his two firms, Campaign Research Inc. and Campaign Support Ltd., now have clients from Windsor to Sault Ste. Marie, including not just politicians but the lobbyists trying to sway them. Critics have pointed out the conflict of interest, which isn’t the only controversy dogging Kouvalis. He’s also been accused of spreading misinformation as well as alt-right and anti-immigrant views. But even his haters will admit: when powerful politicos need to win an election, they call Kouvalis.
Last year, 1Password—a subscription service that lets users store log-ins and other sensitive information in a virtual vault—was one of many promising start-ups in Toronto. Then, in January, the company went supersonic, raising an eye-popping $744 million from venture funds, Pharrell Williams and enough A-list actors (Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Ryan Reynolds) to film a new Avengers. 1Password now has a knee-knocking valuation of—take a breath—$6.8 billion. As CEO, Shiner was the architect of the deal, the biggest-ever investment into a Canadian company. He pitched the celebs directly, and it was an easy sell: some of the stars already used 1Password.
Toews’s novel Women Talking was adapted into one of the most popular films at TIFF.
How did you enjoy trading your writing desk for the glitz of the red carpet?
I was relieved when it was over! It’s not really my thing. But I loved the movie, and my mom had a good time meeting all the stars.
How did a book about sexual assault in a Mexican Mennonite colony find its way to Plan B, Brad Pitt’s production company?
As far as I know, my UK editor gave a copy to Frances McDormand. She liked it and wanted to adapt it, so she brought it to Plan B. When we met to discuss possible directors, they said, “What about Sarah Polley?” I thought, Bingo. I knew she’d do a good job. She kept me in the loop. She sent me drafts of the script and even showed me some of the audition tapes.
What was it like to watch Claire Foy and Rooney Mara inhabit characters you created?
It was kind of surreal. You write away in your pyjamas in a little room, and then this glittering cavalcade of movie stars comes on board. It was very moving in the sense that there was such solidarity. All of these smart, talented women wanted to tell this story.
You had a brush with acting in Silent Light, another film set in a Mexican Mennonite colony. Why didn’t you stick with it?
The director, Carlos Reygadas, would probably tell you himself: it was seat-of-the-pants guerrilla filmmaking. There was no guild looking out for us. We were stuck in the desert. I’ll never do it again, not that anyone has asked. Although Sarah Polley did say, “We’d love it if you could make a little cameo in Women Talking.”
And did you?
No. I said, “There’s no fucking way I’m going to put on another one of those dresses.”
Photo by Mark Boucher
Assistant professor, University of Toronto
Massaquoi led the advisory board that developed the Toronto Police Service’s new race-based data collection policy, the first of its kind in Canada.
How does collecting race-based data help fight racism in the force?
The power of data is that it speaks the truth. You can’t talk about solutions until you look honestly at the problem. In the past, the Black community was gaslit into believing that our concerns weren’t valid or that police were justified in their actions.
Was there a particular incident that convinced the police board to collect this data?
The death of Andrew Loku, a 45-year-old Black man who was killed by police during a mental health call, was a turning point. The inquiry into his death resulted in the formation of the Anti-Racism Advisory Panel, which I joined in 2017.
What have you learned from the data so far?
Police in Toronto are 230 per cent more likely to use force against an unarmed Black person than they are against a white person. And Black people represented 39 per cent of use-of-force incidents, more than quadruple our percentage of the population.
What needs to happen next?
The only way to show that this is unacceptable is to hold perpetrators responsible. I hope the new chief has both the humility to accept the failures and the flexibility to address them.
Photo by Harry Choi
Keary-Matzner is one of seven Ontario youth who launched a landmark lawsuit against the Ford government in 2019, arguing that decisions like ending cap-and-trade, scrapping the Liberals’ climate plan and setting weaker emissions targets are endangering future generations. The 15-year-old Torontonian and her co-plaintiffs, represented by the environmental law charity Ecojustice, believed their Charter rights to life and security were violated, so they sued—not for money but to force the province to adopt evidence-backed goals that align with the Paris Agreement. For years, Ford’s government tried (and failed) to get the suit thrown out. But, this fall, in a historic first, the Ontario Superior Court heard the case. No matter the decision, Keary-Matzner and her fellow eco-warriors have already proven that private citizens have the power to challenge government inaction on this urgent file.
Michael Emory and Jonathan Gitlin
President and CEO, Allied REIT; president and CEO, RioCan REIT
Separately, Gitlin and Emory are powerhouses, each in charge of a multibillion-dollar real estate empire with hundreds of properties across the GTA. Together, they’re perhaps the only team equipped to build something as ambitious as The Well. The massive mixed-use development spans nearly 10 acres; its seven towers include a million square feet of offices and 1,700 condo and rental units. The nightmarish build, which involved six architecture firms, is nearly done. Netflix and Shopify are moving in, and Adidas and O&B will occupy some of the retail space downstairs.
Photo by Getty and CP Images
When a fleet of angry truckers ripped across the province protesting government mandates, Global reporter O’Shea went along for the ride, spending a month on the road and driving thousands of kilometres in a news truck. He followed the convoy to Windsor, Toronto and Ottawa, braving hostile crowds of anti-everythings, unimaginable vitriol and daily risk of physical harm. While most journalists avoided the mobs, O’Shea inserted himself into the fray, providing first-hand accounts in his distinctive, authoritative baritone. As a result, his influence ballooned: Global viewership spiked during his segments, and the BBC eventually hired him to provide updates. Amid the chaos, a local reporter became something of a cult hero—the most trustworthy and definitive source of information on the biggest story in the country, not just for Canadians but for viewers across the globe.
Photo by Christopher Dew
Brigitte Shim and A. Howard Sutcliffe
Ace Hotel: The esteemed husband-and-wife team outfitted the city’s buzziest hotel with an undulating brick façade and a cavernous lobby encased in waves of concrete and wood. It’s the most inspired piece of architecture Toronto has seen in years.
Point William Cottage: This year, Shim-Sutcliffe won a coveted Governor General’s Medal in Architecture for a modernist Muskoka gem that wraps around a chunk of Canadian Shield. It’s also the subject of a new coffee table book that includes photos by Edward Burtynsky.
Integral House: While presenting Shim with a lifetime achievement award, the Association of Chinese Canadian Entrepreneurs made special mention of this masterful home and private concert hall, which Shim-Sutcliffe built into a Rosedale hillside.
Photo by Doublespace Photography
Ruslana Wrzesnewskyj and Kadie Ward
Founder and chair, Help Us Help
Twenty-nine years ago, Toronto realtor Ruslana Wrzesnewskyj founded Help Us Help, a charity aiding orphans in Ukraine. Sadly, it has never been busier. Its network of volunteers stretches across the battered country, evacuating kids from warzones, distributing trauma kits to first responders, and stocking relocation centres with donated cots, stoves, fridges and medicine. Meanwhile, in Toronto, Wrzesnewskyj and the Help Us Help team, which includes chair Kadie Ward, collect donations and help refugees connect with agencies that can assist them in getting settled. Since the war began, they’ve shipped over 10,000 kilos of medical equipment, clothing and other essentials to Ukraine.
This year, Doolittle investigated the gender wage gap, Canada’s broken access-to-information system and, most memorably, the Hockey Canada scandal. Here, Renata D’Aliesio, the Globe and Mail’s head of investigations, recalls how Doolittle’s reporting advanced the conversation.
“When TSN broke the news about Hockey Canada, Globe deputy editor Sinclair Stewart pulled together a team to dig deeper into the story. We included Robyn because she’s one of the country’s most knowledgeable journalists on rape myths, sexual assault and consent laws.
“She and the team revealed that this case never went to the civilian committee meant to scrutinize how police handle sexual assault investigations. If those stories hadn’t happened, the London police might not have reopened their investigation. Robyn also managed to build a relationship with E. M., the woman who said she was sexually assaulted by eight CHL players. Robyn understands that, even with a competitive story like this, the people at the heart of it matter more than getting the scoop.
“Hockey Canada is one of the most powerful sporting organizations in this country. Generations of young men have gone through it, chasing dreams of playing in the NHL. This story has raised important questions about consent and sexual behaviour between men and women. Robyn is one of the leading journalists advancing that conversation in the country.”
Photo by Galit Rodan
The pandemic emptied out Toronto’s theatres and concert halls for nearly two years, pushing some of the city’s most beloved performing arts institutions to the edge of bankruptcy. Thanks to Gary Slaight, however, the show goes on. In September, Slaight, who manages a family foundation started by his late father, billionaire broadcaster Allan Slaight, donated a total of $25 million: $15 million to 22 theatre companies and $10 million to the music charity Unison, which supports struggling workers in the mostly gig-based music industry. The beneficiaries were big and small: Stratford, Shaw and Luminato as well as Soulpepper and Buddies in Bad Times. Obsidian, a BIPOC-focused theatre company, received $250,000, its largest donation ever—and about a third of its annual budget. Artistic director Mumbi Tindyebwa Otu called it an “answered prayer.”
CEO, Ink Entertainment
Khabouth is the architect of Toronto’s nightlife scene. Pool bars, tapas menus, private supper clubs—if it’s hot, he probably made it so. He exercises his influence through a sprawling network of nearly two dozen restaurants, bars, clubs and galleries. In April, Khabouth debuted Bar Chica, a scene-y Spanish kitchen on King West. A few months later, he resurrected Veld, an EDM bacchanal that packed tens of thousands of pent-up revellers into Downsview Park for the first time since 2019. The rest of the year, he was busy exporting the Toronto flavour to Miami, where he opened three new hotspots: an outpost of his elevated Lebanese eatery Amal, the swanky rooftop lounge Level 6 and, most recently, a coastal counterpart to Yorkville’s upscale Italian restaurant Sofia.
Photo by Elaine Fancy
When Smorgasburg, Brooklyn’s beloved open-air food fest, came knocking on Toronto’s door earlier this year, they chose Doss, who’s been covering our food scene since 2003, to take charge of the first edition. It was a big ask. Toronto food festivals are notorious for dysfunction, ingredient shortages and repetitive menu offerings. And Doss faced major logistical hurdles: Smorgasburg’s waterfront parking lot venue had no electricity or running water. Yet, somehow, he made it look easy, corralling more than 100 mostly independent vendors over eight glorious weekends. The fest was a win for both diners and chefs, and a handful of participating vendors are now opening restaurants thanks to the revenue and exposure—including Chinese-Malaysian pop-up Fisticuffs and regional Indian street food purveyor Poppadum.
Photo by Darius Bashar
Pavlovski founded Rumble back in 2013 as a way for small-time creators to upload videos without worrying about censorship or algorithmic manipulation. It finally found its niche in 2020, when it attracted all the American commentators who had been booted off YouTube. Whether Rumble promotes free speech or hate speech is beside the point; there’s no denying it’s one of the fastest-growing sites on the web, with 44 million monthly users and an ever-expanding list of contributors, including Donald Trump, Russell Brand and Mikhaila Peterson. Last year, Rumble opened a snazzy new HQ in Florida. This year, it went public, earning a valuation of $2.1 billion (US), making it one of the Toronto tech scene’s scariest success stories.
The superstar lawyer is best known for successfully defending high-profile clients like Jian Ghomeshi, but she also shines behind the scenes. One of her biggest wins of 2022 came days into the year, without much fanfare, when she quietly settled a class-action suit against cannabis grower CannTrust—whose stock plummeted after the revelation that it was growing a lot of weed without the right licences—for $126 million. (CannTrust denies any wrongdoing.) Confronted with the threat of facing her (and a very public loss) in court, her opponents often prefer to settle. And, because of her Boggsian batting average, she tends to attract the hardest, flashiest cases: in 2022, ousted Conservative leadership contender Patrick Brown, criminally charged city councillor Michael Thompson and Dawn Walker, a Saskatoon woman accused of faking her own death, all hired her firm.
Photo by Markian Lozowchuk
It was a disastrous year for cryptocurrencies. The price of Bitcoin, for one, slumped to about a third of its 2021 peak. Yet Buterin emerged from the wreckage an unlikely victor, not because he got rich but because he addressed a pressing problem: the gobsmacking amount of energy that crypto sucks up. In September, Buterin completed the so-called Merge, which overhauled the inner workings of Ethereum, his $260-billion blockchain platform. We’ll spare you the technical details, but the takeaway is this: Ethereum used to consume as much energy as the entire nation of Chile; now, it uses about as much as a few hundred American households. You don’t need to be a crypto fanatic to understand that this is good news for our warming planet.
Photo by Getty Images
She won 23 games, earned $561,000 (US) and hosts The Backbench, a Canadaland politics podcast. We found out more.
Dream job as a kid: “I wanted to be New Brunswick’s Minister of Education because I was frustrated with problems at my middle school.”
Something every aspiring Jeopardy! contestant should know: “Do not eat a big lunch if you have to play a game in the afternoon. It will slow you down on the buzzer.”
Favourite Toronto restaurant: “I love Fat Pasha and Fet Zun, both run by Anthony Rose.
Last show you binged: “Nathan For You, in preparation for watching The Rehearsal—which I liked but wouldn’t recommend anyone binge.”
Most memorable fan interaction: “An employee at a restaurant in Cape Breton spotted me even though I was wearing a mask and hat. She said she recognized me by my earrings.”
Favourite Toronto bookstore: “Glad Day.”
Who would play you on Celebrity Jeopardy!: “Bowen Yang in a wig and a giant blazer.”
Most unexpected thing about being a Jeopardy! champ: “How into Jeopardy! people are! I’m constantly blown away by how many people love the show deeply.”
Best thing you spent some of that sweet Jeopardy! cash on: “I bought two new suits at Tiger of Sweden for the Tournament of Champions, but other than that, I’ve barely spent any of the money.”
Photo by The Backbench
Robyn Doolittle’s write-up has been updated since its original publication to better reflect her role in covering the Hockey Canada scandal.