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Alberta’s 50 Most Influential: The List

Jul 1, 2009

The list in alphabetical order is as follows:

Rick George
Craig and Layla Baird
Eco Bloggers

Ecologically speaking, Craig and Layla Baird know little things make the difference – especially after spending a year performing one environmentally conscious deed a day. As part of the commitment, the Stony Plain-area writers told of coffee-ground body scrubs and clothes washed with shower water in their blog Our Green Year, garnering a global readership. The year may be over, but the project isn’t. On Day 365, the Bairds vowed to turn the experiment into a lifestyle.

Jane Baker
Labour Lobbyist

As president of the Alberta Association of Midwives, Jane Baker has been the voice of the movement to bring midwifery into the mainstream of health services. Spurred by years of lobbying, the Alberta government put $4.7 million toward covering home births on April 1. Good news for crowded hospitals, parents and practitioners, but the funding will likely leave Baker with a new challenge: meeting a surge in demand.

Leo de Bever
Provincial Wealth Steward

This Dutch-born economist was hired out of Australia last August to become the first chief executive of the newly created Alberta Investment Management Corporation, which manages some $70 billion in provincial employee pension funds and endowments. It wasn’t just the Edmonton weather that was shocking come the fall. But de Bever, a big-picture guy if there ever was one, does not seem rattled. Indeed, as AIMCo’s controversial $380-million loan and investment package to Precision Drilling Trust indicated, he intends to be a buyer in today’s depressed environment.

Lindsay Blackett
Rights Interpreter

Alberta Minister of Culture and Community Spirit Lindsay Blackett recently attempted to pick up where the Supreme Court of Canada left off in 1998, when it forced the Alberta government to read sexual orientation into laws protecting human rights. The time had come for the amendment to be stated explicitly, Blackett felt. The result was the well-intentioned Bill 44 – the Human Rights, Citizenship and Multiculturalism Amendment Act – designed to bring legislation “in line with current and future realities,” he said during the April 28 first reading. But when the bill was revealed to permit the yanking of kids from classes discussing touchy subjects like religion and sexuality and even to make teachers vulnerable to prosecution, Blackett’s efforts inspired some to think the minister’s “realities” stranger than fiction, and his “future” a throwback to, say, Nineteen Eighty-Four. However you view it, Blackett stands out as a rising power in a mostly tired and faceless Tory cabinet.

Luc Bouchard
Oilsands Unbeliever

Like oil and water, politics and religion don’t mix. Apparently the oilsands industry doesn’t mix well with religion either, something Roman Catholic Bishop Luc Bouchard of the Diocese of St. Paul learned the hard way in early 2009. On Jan. 25, 2009, Bouchard, whose district covers nearly 156,000 square kilometres and serves 55,000 people, posted a letter online, discussing industry’s effect on the environment. The letter was also sent to Premier Ed Stelmach and MLAs in the area, and quickly spread across the province. Interspersed with Bible passages, Bouchard’s missive presented an argument against the development of the oilsands and asked for a slowdown. The points he makes “are not directed to the working people of Fort McMurray,” he wrote, “but to oil company executives in Calgary and Houston, to government leaders in Edmonton and Ottawa, and to the general public whose excessive consumerist lifestyle drives the demand for oil” – so nearly everyone. Bouchard argued that expansion of oilsands activity “cannot be morally justified,” and wrote the letter as a way of encouraging public debate on the matter. With religion thrown into the battle for the oilsands, executives and environmental groups jumped into a new debate: does a religious viewpoint have any place in this argument? Other leaders of the religious community joined the fray, notably Anglican Bishop John Clarke of Athabasca, who argued for fairness and balance in how the industry and Fort McMurray are represented. Bouchard set out to incite debate. Mission accomplished. – Stephanie Sparks

Ron Brenneman
Partner in Mega-merger

Because it takes two to tango. Nine years after their first attempt at merging broke down, Brenneman’s Petro-Canada and Suncor Energy Inc. finally tied the knot this spring, creating Canada’s largest company (by revenues) and doing more than Petro-Canada’s federal godfathers ever could to ensure Canadian energy assets do not fall wholesale into foreign hands. Brenneman will serve as executive vice-chairman of the new Suncor.

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