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

28 | Sheldon Levy

28 | Sheldon Levy, 63, Ryerson University

Aside from condo builders, few people have done more to reshape the downtown core. Through sheer force of will and the balls to phone up just about anyone and ask for cash, Levy has transformed a once lightweight polytechnic institute into a respected university. He rang up suburb king Peter Gilgan, the head of Mattamy Homes and a former Ryerson parent, and came away with a promise for $15 million. His is a folksy, casual pitch, but he’s got edge, too: when the federal government was late with its contribution to the overhaul of Maple Leaf Gardens, Levy told the press that if Ryerson students didn’t get their much-needed recreation centre, they’d have Harper to blame (the funds quickly came through). The resulting $60-million complex at the Gardens is a triumph, and Levy’s following it up with a $112-million student centre at the site of the old Yonge Street Sam the Record Man. It’s no accident that you don’t hear the name Rye High anymore. PART-TIME GIGS: Board member of the Fields Institute for Research in Mathematical Sciences and the Toronto Waterfront Revitalization Corporation; on the steering committee of the Greater Toronto CivicAction Alliance.

  • 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