The Top 25 Most Influential - Page 4
- Subtitle: Cover Story
Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, MP for Niagara Falls, Ont.
Whether you agree with them or not, you can’t deny that the changes to criminal law in Canada, led by Rob Nicholson, are making waves in both the legal profession and among the general public. With its majority, the federal Conservatives have pushed through their omnibus crime bill, perhaps one of the most controversial pieces of legislation this government has tabled. Nicholson has been at the forefront of selling it and also taking the heat from detractors. With pull behind the scenes, as the Hill Times recently noted: “Nicholson is the vice-chair of the second most influential Cabinet committee, Operations, which is responsible for providing ‘day-to-day coordination of the government’s agenda, including issues management, legislation and House planning, and communications.’” The minister faces some tough court battles with the fight against the legalization of brothels and the future of the assisted-suicide laws likely heading to the Supreme Court of Canada.
What the panel had to say: “Nicholson is able to stay on message and push
the government’s agenda despite the backlash from numerous critics including
members of the opposition.”
Commissioner of Competition, Ottawa
Federal Competition Commissioner Melanie Aitken has been a thorn in the side of many businesses, including setting her sights on Visa and MasterCard for forcing merchants to accept customer use of high-fee points cards. She is part of the backbone of most big deals in Canada — including major ones like the Maple-TMX deal — and ensures fairness and competition for consumers. In the last year, her office has been responsible for handing out fines in the millions of dollars for price-fixing in the gasoline and auto-parts industries. Many considered it her role to keep business honest, but in late June, she announced she would be leaving the post on Sept. 21. This is her second appearance in the Top 25.
What the panel had to say: “In the last year Aitken has been extremely influential in raising the red flag and putting corporations on notice that the Competition Bureau is keeping an eagle eye on what they’re doing.”
Leader, New Democratic Party of Canada, and MP for Outremont, Montreal
In addition to being elected to lead the federal New Democratic Party earlier this year, Thomas Mulcair was instrumental in helping Jack Layton engineer the party’s “orange tide” in Quebec during the last election. He’s obviously got something going for him in the political arena as he’s now been the proud target of Conservative party attack ads. The ads take him to task over comments he made in the spring that the Alberta oilsands have given the country a case of “Dutch disease” because oil exports raise the value of the Canadian dollar, in turn hurting the economy in other parts of the country. Prior to his career in politics, Mulcair worked in the Quebec provincial government, practised law, and taught at a university.
What the panel had to say: “Mulcair is likely to have one of the most pivotal roles any member of the NDP has ever had in the future of this country.”
|Photo: Reuters/Dan Riedhuber|
Premier of Alberta
Redford is Alberta’s 14th premier and a lawyer who is changing the way the province does things. She came from behind to win the election and present a more outward-looking face of Alberta. Also, she’s changing laws and has boldly cracked down on impaired driving, despite massive opposition. Speaking in Beijing in July, she noted Alberta is friendly to foreign investment and that China’s energy needs fit well with her proposal for a Canadian energy strategy that essentially unites provinces on resource development issues — and, of course, supports Alberta’s oilsands.
What the panel had to say: “Redford is definitely shaking it up in one of Canada’s most conservative provinces.”
Privacy commissioner of Canada, Ottawa
Making her second appearance on the Top 25 Most Influential list, Privacy Commissioner Jennifer Stoddart continues in her role as a world leader in ensuring individuals’ rights are protected in the collection, use, and disclosure of personal information by an organization in the course of commercial activity. Over the past year, she helped derail the much-maligned lawful access bills with her pointed criticisms in her letter to Public Safety Minister Vic Toews. Last year, she concluded that an audit by her office found that Staples Business Depot stores failed to fully wipe off customer data from returned devices designed for re-sale, even though the company had assured it dealt with the issue accordingly.
What voters had to say: “Has single-handedly done more for the protection of privacy in Canada than anyone else has done or is ever likely to do again.”
Next: Top 5 Outliers
One of Canada’s most experienced and respected legal journalists, Gail J. Cohen is the editor in chief of Canadian Lawyer and Law Times, responsible for the editorial direction of all the publications in the group, which also includes Candian Lawyer InHouse, Canadian Lawyer 4Students, and the daily Legal Feeds blog. Gail has been covering the legal profession in Canada as a reporter and editor since 1997, putting her in a prime position to access and engage thought leaders in the regulatory, legal, and business realms. Canadian Lawyer and its editorial team have been the recipients of many journalism awards and their publications are highly respected throughout the legal profession in Canada and abroad.