2014 Power Issue

Foreign powers: Canada’s most powerful non-Canadians

They hail from abroad, but these five people are reshaping Canada

To see the 2014 Maclean’s Power List, naming the 50 most important Canadians, click here.

They may not have been born in our borders, but these five people wield significant power as outsiders now firmly on the inside:

William Johnson, Alex Behring

1. Alex Behring da Costa
One of the founders of Brazil’s 3G Capital, a global investment firm, Behring da Costa will be executive chairman of the combined Burger King-Tim Hortons company, assuming the merger between the two chains goes through. It’s fair to say the fate of Canada’s double-double darling rests in his hands.


2. Neil Turok
Turok, from South Africa, is director of the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Waterloo, Ont., perhaps the world’s leading physics think tank. His African Institutes for Mathematical Sciences mirror Perimeter’s work in his home continent, and are becoming a major recipient of Canadian government aid. His is the boyish face of Canada’s science clout.

Rogers Communications Inc President and CEO Laurence speaks during an AGM in Toronto

3. Guy Laurence
A year after taking the helm at Canada’s largest telco, Rogers Communications (which owns Maclean’s), the British exec has been immersed in a barrage of deals—billions for NHL broadcast rights; launching Shomi, a Netflix rival; scrapping most roaming fees—all aimed at shaking up a staid sector. Along the way, he dissed rival BCE at a regulatory hearing for being a “crybaby.” When was the last time corporate Canada saw anything like this?

William Ackman, Bill Ackman

4. Bill Ackman
The billionaire hedge fund manager from New York hailed Canada as a dream spot for activist shareholders, and has put his money where his mouth is. He’s backed efforts to revive or merge a number of companies here, including Canadian Pacific, Valeant Pharmaceuticals, Tim Hortons and Sears Canada. Expect more Canadian companies to come into his sights.


5. Andy Byford
Making the trains, trams and buses run on time has been just one of Byford’s challenges, since the British rail exec took on the task of modernizing the transit system in Canada’s largest city. While the TTC head tries to impose such novel concepts as customer service and efficiency, his duties have become increasingly political, as he attempts to wrangle funds out of Ottawa and Queen’s Park.

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