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50 Most Influential 2012: a ranking of Toronto’s top tycoons, backroom operators and supersize egos

50 Most Influential

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.

(Images: Daniel Ehrenworth, Vanessa Heins, Markian Lozowchuk, George Pimentel, Lee Towndrow, Raina and Wilson, BFA, CP Images, Getstock, Getty Images and Reuters)

  • Kevin

    What really has Amanda Laing accomplished to deserve being on this list?

  • IConICE

    Russell Peters stopped trying when he started believing his own hype. Now he’s Rob Schneider.

  • Andrew Redlich

    Anyone who can influence Kevin O’Leary deserves to be on this list. And, hey she’s a a very good anchor. She gets my vote to take over when Peter Mansbridge retires.

  • transit_nerdo

    C’mon! Karen Stintz should be higher, shes the only one that gives two cents about the people in this city and not themselves.

  • smartalex

    And where is Rob Ford? Off the radar…?

  • Alex Rascanu

    Inspirational. Thank you for this, Toronto Life!

  • K K

    the only reason lang is on this list is due to her family connections. so what if she “supports” o’leary on their television show. she hardly makes any astonishing points while o’leary continues to steal the spotlight. sorry, not buying it. if anything, she should be at the bottom of the 50. what else has she done compared to the others on the list?

  • Tom Maras



    If Mark Carney is not going to be hired by England Central Bank, I don’t think he will be listed on top 1, or even will not enter the list. Why are not Canadian confident and do Canadian need to be proved by the external? SUMMER

  • jason Baies

    I’m pretty sure Sarah Polley is more influential than most of the supposed top 50. Really, Karen Stintz but not Oliva Chow or Adam Vaughan? Who’s kidding who, this is just Liberal Party propaganda. Seriously, Albert Shultz. Give me a break.

  • Dave

    Nadir Mohamed, Really? Rogers is the most unethical company

  • Smith Dean

    Definitely the head of the BofC would be in the top 50.

  • wayne garvey

    jaime watt … seems familiar …

    In 1984, Watt was convicted of fraud for forging bank releases and promissory notes to obtain $16,000 in private loans to save the failing Oakville clothing business he had begun as a teenager. He was sentenced to twenty nights in jail. His conviction came to light following his appointment to the position of Director of Communications in the office of Premier Mike Harris and he was forced to resign in 1995 for not disclosing his criminal record and had to resign from a second position he was subsequently appointed to after that appointment became known

  • innovatinguy

    I would love to buy Prem Watsa lunch, so that we could discuss a joint venture placing an App on the Blackberry, which would front-end searches on the Internet with an English Language, content oriented search engine allowing users to find specifically what they are looking for, not thousands of hits like Google and other fuzzy search engines. It would put the Blackberry back into the lead in the Smart Phone industry and remove the frustration users feel when they can’t locate exactly what they are searching for on the Internet.

  • leftyhunter

    Funny no rob ford