The Top 25 Most Influential 2016 - Government/Non-profit

  • Subtitle: Cover Story
Written by  Posted Date: August 1, 2016


Ian Binnie Member arbitrator, Arbitration Place; and counsel, Lenczner Slaght Royce Smith Griffin LLP Toronto

Binnie has not slowed down since retiring from the Supreme Court of Canada — in fact, if anything, his influence across the legal and public world continues to grow. In the past year, among many other high-profile engagements, Binnie was appointed as special arbitrator in the very public and controversial Senate expenses investigation. His findings in that matter were released in March, stating, “I impute no bad motives to any of the senators” and reducing expenses owed in 10 of the 14 cases. In mid-June, the Senate decided to have a law firm review seven of the senators’ cases to decide whether to launch further legal action. Binnie also continues to serve as chairman of the United Nations Internal Justice Council, where he is responsible for advising the UN General Assembly in its implementation of the new UN Dispute Tribunal and Appeals Tribunal systems. As for his role at Lenczner Slaght, Binnie shares strategic and practical advice as well as his dispute resolution expertise with colleagues and clients.

What voters had to say:

“Unstoppable, great man.”

“His commitment to continue to have impact after such an impressive career is laudable.”

Catherine McKenna Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, MP for Ottawa Centre Ottawa

In the spring, McKenna announced Canada would be ratifying the Paris Accord. Nearly 200 nations adopted the agreement, which calls on the world to collectively cut and eventually eliminate greenhouse gas pollution. She is working to reach agreements with each province on reducing carbon emissions and attempting to form a national plan to reduce levels going forward. McKenna, backed by a majority government with an environmental sustainability mandate, is the first environment minister to stand a chance of effecting real change. She is active on Twitter, connecting to a new audience about Canada’s environmental initiatives. Before politics, McKenna was in-house counsel, worked in private practice, and was executive director of the Banff Forum.

What voters had to say:

“Whether through her work with the U.N. in Timor, here at home working with CREA, or now as Minister of Climate Change and the Environment, Minister McKenna demonstrates her diversity as a lawyer in her ability to move between commercial and trade law, as well as public policy. She embodies the collective responsibility the legal community has to do good for society.”

Justice Paul Perell Ontario Superior Court of Justice Toronto

Perell is considered one of the most prodigious and active judges on the bench. He has written many influential decisions relating to: physician-assisted death; civil sexual assault where the plaintiff was a male — he dismissed the case; the Indian Residential Schools class action settlement — he ordered a claimant’s file be destroyed after 15 years unless they consented to publication, and that decision was upheld by the Court of Appeal; numerous decisions to advance the development and operation of class action and mass litigation jurisprudence. His decisions and opinions are balanced, well thought out, and persuasive. Supporters call him the best class action judge in Canada with a keen sense of justice.

What voters had to say:

“Intense and brilliant, dedicated, independent-minded.”

John Tory Mayor Toronto

Elected Mayor of Toronto in October 2014, Tory has exerted his influence on the city in a number of ways including a key focus on improving transportation with a new plan for rebuilding the Gardiner Expressway, increased public transit infrastructure, and action on licensing Uber. However, critics say his initiatives for pedestrians and cyclists have been less than stellar and he faces many funding challenges. In June 2015, he announced the cancellation of the highly controversial practice of “carding,” calling it racially discriminatory. A poll released in June indicated 74 per cent of voters said they approve of the job Tory is doing as mayor — a marked increase over his predecssor’s approval ratings.

What voters had to say:

“Tory has carried the lawyerly ideal into the fields of business and politics, demonstrating a fair-mindedness and rationale basis for policy-making.”

Jody Wilson-Raybould Justice Minister and Attorney General of Canada, MP for Vancouver-Granville Vancouver

As a former regional chief of the B.C. Assembly of First Nations, Wilson-Raybould brings extensive experience in law, public service, and First Nations governance to cabinet. She is Canada’s first aboriginal justice minister who has already changed the course of much litigation under the previous Conservative government. She is also tasked with making major changes to Canada’s law and justice system going forward on a variety of complex issues. She steered the controversial assisted-dying bill through amendments in the Senate to have it passed into law in mid-June. Since its passing, a constitutional challenge has been launched that she’ll have to address. Next up: medical marijuana legislation.

What voters had to say:

“Her position allows indigenous children to dream of what we can be.”

“Wilson-Raybould is steadfast in her dedication to instilling integrity in every facet of her work and that of the department. . . . She is an incredible force in the legal field, and Canada is better because of her attitude and her work.”

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Gail J. Cohen

One of Canada’s most experienced and respected legal journalists, Gail J. Cohen is the former editor in chief of Canadian Lawyer and Law Times, who was 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 covered the legal profession in Canada as a reporter and editor since 1997, which had put 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.

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