Most Powerful People

Canada’s 50 Most Powerful Business People 2014: #31–40

Meet the dealmakers, string-pullers and master manipulators who call the shots in 2014

#31 Heather Reisman

Chair and CEO, Indigo

Is reinventing retail

Her retail chain, Indigo, may be struggling, but don’t count Heather Reisman out. She’s repositioning it as the world’s first “cultural department store,” and has convinced megawatt brands like Apple and American Girl to sign on to her vision. If the plan works, she hopes to take the chain global. If it doesn’t, she’ll find other ways to make her mark on the world. As one of the backers of Fed Up, a documentary about our growing addiction to sweet, processed foods, she’s taken a stand on sugar (in her stores, she’s banned treats from the checkout aisle). And as a steering committee member for the ultra-elite Bilderberg conference for global leaders, she wields another sort of power. But you’ll never see it: You’re not invited.

READ: InteraXon’s brain-sensing headband, Muse, goes on sale at Indigo »

#32 Brian Mulroney

Chair, QuebecorCan fix Karl Péladeau’s problems

As president and CEO of Quebecor, Pierre Karl Péladeau led a telecommunications giant beholden to federal regulations. So when he declared himself a separatist and entered Quebec politics, he created real concerns for shareholders. With a wireless spectrum auction looming, how could the company make itself a palatable partner for the Canadian government? By appointing a former Conservative prime minister—and ardent federalist—as its chairman. Brian Mulroney’s new job as Quebecor’s fix-it man is a reminder of his clout. As a director at Barrick Gold, Wyndham Worldwide and the Blackstone Group, he remains influential two decades after he left public life.

READ: How much longer will Sun TV stay on-the-air? »

#33 Bonnie Brooks

Vice Chair, Hudson’s Bay CompanyKnows what shoppers want

You quit shopping at dowdy Hudson’s Bay Company years ago, but now you’re back, snapping up A-list offerings from brands like Top Shop and the just-opened Kleinfeld Bridal boutique. That’s the magic of retailing turnaround artist Bonnie Brooks. In her new role of vice-chair, Hudson’s Bay Company, she’s now focusing on the company’s other holdings, which include Lord & Taylor and Saks. Watch for the magic to spread.

READ: Why Hudson’s Bay will lose Canada’s retail war in 2014 »

#34 Calvin Helin

President, Eagle Spirit EnergyCould break the Pacific pipeline impasse

An author, lawyer and public speaker with a Twitter following approaching two million—his overriding theme being self-reliance, especially for aboriginal people—Calvin Helin could potentially be the one to break the deadlock over oil-pipeline access to the Pacific Ocean. His Eagle Spirit Energy proposal, backed by Vancouver’s billionaire Aquilini family (owners of the Vancouver Canucks), aims to put First Nations in the driver’s seat, with a pipeline from Alberta to B.C.’s North Coast.

READ: Six factors that could still stop the Northern Gateway Pipeline »

#35 Marc Poulin

President & CEO, Empire Co.Is flexing retail muscle

Marc Poulin helped engineer parent company Empire’s headline-grabbing takeover of Safeway in 2013—just before he became the first non-family CEO in Sobeys’ history. Since then, he’s made his own big changes, shuttering 50 underperforming stores across the country and selling 30 more to meet Competition Bureau requirements for the Safeway deal. And he’s flexing his muscles with suppliers, asking for a one per cent price cut to meet cost-saving targets. When you’re the second-largest grocery chain in Canada, with $17.6 billion in annual sales, you can afford to call the shots.

READ: Can Sobeys change leaders and conquer Western Canada at the same time? »

#36 Amanda Lang

Senior Business Correspondent, CBC NewsGets all the best interviews

If you want to get your message broadcast within Canadian business circles, then Amanda Lang is the person to do it. The senior business correspondent for CBC News, and one-half of The Lang & O’Leary Exchange, Lang is the go-to journalist for the corporate elite. Although she has political ties—Lang’s the daughter of former Liberal cabinet minister Otto Lang—she has established herself as one of the country’s most respected business journalists, scoring access to world leaders (Bill Clinton and Tony Blair), high-ranking government officials (Stephen Harper) and hard-to-reach executives (Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal).

READ: Canada needs risk takers—Amanda Lang »

#37 Tim Leiweke

President & CEO, Maple Leaf Sports and EntertainmentIs turning Toronto into the world’s most exciting sports city

On May 4, close to 10,000 basketball fans gathered outside the Air Canada Centre to witness the Toronto Raptors fall to the Brooklyn Nets in a nail-biting playoff loss. Watching the crowd jump and cheer, you couldn’t help but notice the fans—white, black, South Asian, European—were more representative of the ethnic and social diversity of Toronto than any Leafs crowd. Toronto had entered a new era in sports, and the architect behind the “Northern Uprising” was Tim Leiweke, the Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment honcho. Leiweke, who might be the most connected man in sports, has a record of calling in high-profile favours to get what he wants. He’s tapped Toronto-born rapper Drake to lead a ground campaign to rebrand the Raptors. He orchestrated a “chance” meeting with Lebron James to convince soccer superstar Jermain Defoe to sign with Toronto FC. And he’s hinted that he’d love to get Laker pal Steve Nash involved next. How deep is Leiweke’s Rolodex? He’s even tight with Bill Clinton who, in 2000, got the Democratic National Convention booked into Leiweke’s just-opened Staples Center.

READ: MLSE makes a strong statement naming Tim Leiweke new CEO »

#38 Shane Smith

Co-founder and CEO, ViceIs showing Rupert Murdoch how news is done

Shane Smith’s dance card has been pretty full this past year. His Instagram account shows him hanging with Bono and Mike Tyson. He sent Dennis Rodman to North Korea to watch basketball games with Kim Jong-un for Vice’s HBO newsmagazine series (which, incidentally, earned three Primetime Emmy nominations this year). And he’s taking lunches with Rupert Murdoch, MTV co-founder Tom Freston and Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes. The first two are already investors in Vice, the most sought-after media brand in the world. The latter is hungry to become one.

Read the full profile of Shane Smith »

Black and white portrait of Vice co-founder and CEO Shane Smith

(Raina + Wilson)

#39 Gerry Protti

Chair, Alberta Energy RegulatorKeeps watch over the oil patch

Environmentalists decried the appointment of Gerry Protti, a former Encana executive, as chair of the newly amalgamated Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) last year as a case of the fox guarding the henhouse. But under his leadership the AER has taken a more muscular approach to oil and gas oversight, cracking down on things like leaks to well bores and aerial pollutants.

READ: A new threat to investing in Canada’s oilsands »

#40 John Masswohl

Lobbyist, Canadian Cattlemen’s AssociationPulls strings on Parliament Hill

A former policy officer and embassy staffer, Masswohl now lobbies the federal government on matters ranging from labelling issues to the temporary foreign worker program. He was an ardent and active champion of the free-trade deal with the European Union, which traded greater access to the Canadian cheese market for a potential $600-million boost to our beef exports. Low-profile but effective, Masswohl enjoys regular audiences with Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz, Minister of International Trade Ed Fast and Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

READ: Think EU trade negotiations took forever? China and India will take longer »

Continue to #41–50 »