Maclean's Top 50 Power Brokers of 1996 | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Maclean's Top 50 Power Brokers of 1996

Of course, in the cash-strapped, resource-shy atmosphere that prevails in Ottawa in the 1990s, neither power nor the temptations it brings are of the scale they once were.
Conrad Black, businessman
Black's publishing empire included the London Daily Telegraph and 58 Canadian dailies (courtesy Maclean's).

In the not always generous world of politics, power - paradoxically - is something that most people would rather give than receive. Those who give it, by definition, have power to spare; those who receive it can just as quickly lose it. Just ask David Collenette. One day last week, he was defence minister, presiding over tens of thousands of employees, and recognized as one of Ottawa's most influential people. The next day, Collenette was just one of 295 members of Parliament. His resignation changed the lives of three other Liberal MPs who saw their own power increased almost by happenstance.

Of course, in the cash-strapped, resource-shy atmosphere that prevails in Ottawa in the 1990s, neither power nor the temptations it brings are of the scale they once were. There is no money to spend on new programs, less money to spend on existing ones, a nation of voters suspicious of politicians, and a lineup of provincial premiers waiting for the first opportunity to claim authority over areas now controlled by the federal government. But the federal government remains a force in the lives of all Canadians, whether they like it or not. That is true in both positive and less-happy ways - by the services or subsidies it offers individuals or their businesses, or by the taxes it levies or legislation it passes. What has changed is the nature of power, largely defined by the person who holds the most of it. In that sense, Ottawa under Jean Chrétien is markedly different than it was in nine years under Brian Mulroney.

Then, power and access were things that everyone boasted about and claimed to have, starting with Mulroney, who revelled in telling associates anecdotes about his experiences with the likes of Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher. Similarly, lobbyists bragged of their friendship - real or imagined - with the prime minister, as did political aides. Traditional civil servants were regarded with suspicion or sometimes outright contempt. But on the more positive side of the ledger, Mulroney paid close attention to the views of all of his caucus members.

The nature of power under Jean Chrétien is more discreet. Lobbyists have become a much more endangered species, the salaries and sizes of ministerial staffs have been slashed, and civil servants have returned to prominent positions of influence. Few people boast of their close ties to the Prime Minister because they know that is the surest way to end them. "I have a bunch of people I call regularly for advice, and I am not gonna say who they are," Chrétien told an acquaintance recently. "And they are sure not gonna say who they are, because they know that if they do, I won't call them anymore." Unelected officials have a horror of gaining a high profile because Chrétien believes that anyone who is not elected should be neither seen nor heard discussing government policy.

At the same time, the role of the backbench government MP is at its lowest ebb since the days of Pierre Trudeau, who once observed contemptuously that "away from the Hill, they're nobodies." Chrétien dislikes surprises, and does not suffer dissent gladly. When he makes changes, as he did with his cabinet shuffle last week, it is usually because they have been thrust on him by circumstances. Because of the pressure on MPs to support him at all times or face the consequences, backbenchers now are treated with near equal disdain both on and off the Hill. But Chrétien, despite the dismissive remarks he frequently makes about the Mulroney government, has also proven fond of appointing old friends to high positions, such as former Liberal MP Roméo LeBlanc as Governor General, and a series of new senators whose chief credentials are their past organizing and fund-raising successes for the Liberal party.

Regardless of the fiscal environment or political party forming the government, though, Ottawa remains obsessed by power: who has it, how to use it, how to lose it, how to get more, and how to take it away from others. Money talks, power in latter-day Ottawa walks discreetly. What matters most is access: the ability to make the big phone call, have calls returned and, by extension, to get things done. The Maclean's list of Ottawa's 50 top power brokers is precisely that - the people in or around the federal government who either take, or make, such calls, and therefore make things happen that can affect the entire country. It was compiled by members of Maclean's Ottawa bureau, working with senior editors at the magazine, and is also the product of informal discussions with many people in Ottawa - although, naturally, they will remain nameless.

Those on the list range from backroom political fixers to nonpartisan career civil servants, from federal cabinet ministers to anti-Ottawa provincial premiers, from retirees to some of the nation's most prominent business executives. The only group excluded from the list are those who have their own lines of power that run parallel to, but separate from, political Ottawa. That includes, for example, the nine judges of the Supreme Court of Canada, the governor of the Bank of Canada, Gordon Thiessen, and LeBlanc. For the sake of clarity, the 50 power brokers are divided into five categories, while beside each name in brackets appears Career Path: up, down or sideways to indicate what direction their career paths appear to be heading. "The People's Choices" are elected politicians at either the federal or provincial level. "The Inner Circle" comprises the partisan political people with great influence on the Prime Minister who talk to him on a regular, often daily, basis. "More than Civil Servants" are the nonpartisan civil servants who, because of the importance of their department or the respect they have personally earned, can move a project along quickly - or keep it in limbo forever. "Cool heads" are people who are not working directly for government but receive attention because of the quality of their ideas. "Wheelers, Healers and Dealers" are often, although not always, partisan party people who serve as a bridge between the elected members of a government devoted to the interests of all Canadians, and the more specific interests of the party workers who helped put them there. Finally, "Money Talkers" are the representatives of Big Business who, almost regardless of what party is in power, are listened to because of the size of the bankrolls and payrolls they command.

In addition to those categories, there are three separate groups totalling 15 people who are on the margins of the list. "The Underrated" are precisely that - people who attract little attention, but whose views consistently have impact. Similarly, "Up And Comers" are in the process of earning a respectful hearing, and will likely break into any such list in years to come. Finally, "The Overrated" refers to those who would normally command great influence - but who, by either changing circumstances or mishandling of their positions, do not.

Any such list is, by nature, subjective rather than scientific. And cabinet shuffles, shifts in policy priorities, a public misstep or an unexpected political coup can either stop a career dead or thrust a previous unknown into the limelight. One year from now, the only certainty is that the list of people of prominence, and their positions on it, will inevitably have changed.

Personalities and performance dictate the ebb and flow of influence among the men and women who lead the country. A Career Path that is up indicates that their clout is on the rise, one that is down means that it is in decline, and one that is sideways is holding steady.

Shifting Fortunes at the Top

The Opinions the PM Heeds

The Heavy Hitters

The Money Managers

Bench Strength

The Backroom Gang

The Overrated

The Underrated

Up and Comers

1. Pierre Trudeau

(Career Path: down)

Chrétien's advisers assure everyone that their boss does not talk that often to his former boss. But all Liberals know that Trudeau, who turns 77 next week, remains a sharp-fanged lion in winter. Would you really try to pass a new constitutional accord without this man? Still, the indifference that greeted his complaints about being left on the shelf during the 1995 referendum campaign speaks to a declining level of public interest in him.

2. Arthur Kroeger

(Career Path: up)

A former clerk of the Privy Council, the now-retired Kroeger has become Ottawa's acknowledged éminence grise on the subject of bureaucratic organization. That is a particularly timely issue, given the projected loss of 45,000 federal jobs over the next few years. Often called upon for advice by the PMO and other departments, Kroeger always obliges. His advice on constitutional matters, such as the devolution of power to the provinces, is considered invaluable.

3. Peter Nicholson

(Career Path: down)

Earlier this year, Nicholson, a former banker, left the finance department after more than two years as an adviser and sometime speechwriter for Paul Martin. Too bad: Nicholson, an adventurous spirit with a big intellect, was one of the few people who could keep up with Martin's appetite for information and ideas. He is now an executive with Bell Canada Enterprises in Montreal - which has lessened his access.

4. Thomas Kierans

(Career Path: sideways)

The Toronto-based C. D. Howe Institute, or "Howe," as it is commonly known, serves as a bridge among academics, big businessmen and senior bureaucrats. Many ideas that have surfaced as government policy on issues ranging from the Constitution to the importance of immediate deficit reduction were first introduced, debated - and frequently denounced - at the institute. Kierans, the Howe's chief executive officer, is renowned for his bright, iconoclastic manner and his willingness to share ideas in blunt language.

5. Gordon Ritchie

(Career Path: up)

Never mind his seemingly mechanical manner and dry-as-dust way of speaking. Ritchie, a consultant, is the acknowledged expert on trade issues with the United States. He helped negotiate the Free Trade Agreement on behalf of Canada, worked alongside Chrétien during the Prime Minister's private-sector days in the 1980s, and is liked and respected by the man at 24 Sussex Drive.

1. David Dodge

(Career Path: up)

At best, many observers predicted a long-running series of firefights between Martin and his equally strong-willed deputy minister when the Liberals formed a government in 1993 - or, at worst, a very short professional relationship. Instead, they became staunch allies - a fact enhanced, rather than diminished, by their willingness at finance department meetings to publicly disagree with each other. That has encouraged a new spirit of openness in the traditionally sterile debates in the department. Dodge's obvious respect for Martin was one of the keys to the minister winning over suspicious mandarins who were too often ignored - or given impossible targets by predecessors to Martin.

2. Raymond Chrétien

(Career Path: up)

The fact that he is the Prime Minister's nephew does not hurt, but Raymond Chrétien, a career foreign service officer, is also acknowledged by admirers - among them Lucien Bouchard - to be extremely effective. He is one of the few francophones ever to serve as Canada's ambassador to Washington, a position traditionally, though informally, reserved for anglos. More to the point, few weeks pass when the Prime Minister does not consult him about Canada's foreign affairs in all parts of the globe. His talents came to the fore when he succeeded in persuading Bill Clinton to delay U.S. sanctions against Canada over trade with Cuba, despite widespread domestic pressure on the President to take action.

3. Jocelyne Bourgon

(Career Path: down)

Despite holding the top civil service position in Ottawa, the Clerk of the Privy Council was initially regarded with distrust by Chrétien's advisers suspicious of her close ties to Mulroney, who championed her career. She has overcome much of the suspicion, but still has not succeeded in placing her own imprint on the civil service. Bourgon is respected but not loved; according to an insider, one of her only fans is Chrétien "and he's afraid of her."

4. George Anderson

(Career Path: up)

John Rae's former schoolmate and Eddie Goldenberg's friend, Anderson is the cabinet deputy secretary who oversees the unity operation in the Privy Council Office. Although there is no universal affection from his colleagues, the 24-year veteran of public service enjoys close ties to many Liberals. In 1993, the government moved him into the PCO to oversee the special infrastructure investment program. A year later, he went to Finance and then on to Foreign Affairs as emphasis shifted to deficit reduction and foreign trade. Wherever he goes is a sure sign of where Liberal priorities lie.

5. Peter Harder

(Career Path: up)

The secretary of the Treasury Board is a onetime Tory who moved from a political job into the civil service. Originally regarded with great suspicion by the Liberals, he proved loyal, efficient and discreet while serving as deputy minister of Immigration and Citizenship. Other civil servants describe him as the fastest riser among them.

1. Roy Romanow

In federal-provincial terms, being premier of Saskatchewan means being seated below the salt at First Ministers' gatherings. But Romanow, who worked closely with Jean Chrétien in the 1981 constitutional negotiations when both men were justice ministers, is an old friend of the Prime Minister. He is regarded as an important ally - though by no means an uncritical one - in most federal-provincial talks.

2. Penny Collenette

Never mind her husband, David, it is Penny Collenette who, as Chrétien's appointments secretary, spends quality time with the PM - half an hour alone every week. "Don't ever underestimate the importance of that," says one longtime Liberal. She oversees the thousands of appointments that the government makes during its mandate. Blessed with a puckish sense of humor and a high comfort level with the Prime Minister, she knows how to make Chrétien laugh.

3. Michel Vennat

A longtime Liberal, devout federalist and a charter member of Chrétien's political network, Vennat is a Montreal lawyer who has been a staple on virtually every unity committee in existence. In Montreal's tightly wired legal community, where sovereigntists and federalists work side by side on a daily basis, he is a big asset, well-liked by both sides.

4. Preston Manning

The Liberals are openly contemptuous of the Reform party. But why, then, have they stolen Reform's basic issues, including deficit reduction and tougher stances on immigration, violent crime and Quebec secession?

5. Judd Buchanan

Take a look at the those ads running in foreign publications that promote tourism in Quebec. They are sponsored jointly by Quebec and Ottawa - a remarkable achievement in these troubled times. Buchanan, a former cabinet minister and now $1-a-year man, arranged it.

1. Aline Chrétien

(Career Path: up)

Never mind calling her the power behind the throne - she shares the seat of power. The Prime Minister consults her on everything, including policy and personnel moves. If she doesn't like someone, that person is gone. She made a rare appearance in the House of Commons to comfort her husband when aides knew he was nervous in the late days of last year's Quebec referendum campaign, and privately tore a strip off him a year earlier when he publicly and uncharacteristically boasted of his high standing in the polls.

2. John Rae

(Career Path: up)

Whether in private life or plotting policy or politics, Rae, a senior executive with Montreal-based Power Corp. and brother of the former Ontario premier, is first among equals in Chrétien's circle of friends and advisers. Their friendship dates back more than 30 years, and Rae has headed every election or leadership campaign that Chrétien has run. When Chrétien golfed with Bill Clinton and Jim Blanchard, then the U.S. ambassador to Canada, in the summer of 1995 in Nova Scotia, Rae was the fourth.

3. Eddie Goldenberg

(Career Path: sideways)

Chrétien once described the diminutive, secretive Goldenberg as "my pocket computer." The Prime Minister's senior policy adviser is also his chief fireman: every immediate political crisis confronting the government goes straight to Goldenberg's desk. The two have been together for more than a quarter of a century, and, as Chrétien has said: "Eddie always knows exactly how I think." Caucus members resent him.

4. Jean Pelletier

(Career Path: sideways)

Elegant in style and speech and terrifying to underlings, Pelletier is the man who brought order to Chrétien's chaotic political life when he became chief of staff in 1991. A onetime high-school classmate of the Prime Minister and former mayor of Quebec City, he has a formidable network of contacts everywhere in his home province, as well as Ottawa. Pelletier is not always involved in crafting strategy, but is always a key player in implementing it. Despite the fact that he is a fierce federalist, political opponents in the Bloc Québécois like and respect him.

5. David Zussman

(Career Path: up)

Zussman, a native Montrealer and former civil servant, keeps a low profile by choice. But the longtime Liberal policy adviser, now a professor of administration at the University of Ottawa, was one of the few people Chrétien telephoned on the day before the 1993 election, and was one of a handful of people Chrétien had with him at 24 Sussex Drive on referendum night last year. Zussman is one of two people drafting the new Red Book of promises that will be the cornerstone of the Liberals' election campaign next year.

6. Jean Carle

(Career Path: sideways)

Still in his early 30s, Carle has the avuncular, publicly cautious manner of someone much older. He is director of operations in the Prime Minister's Office, and the Chrétien family treats him like one of its own. On a business level, no contract goes out of the PMO that Carle is not aware of. Any message to Chrétien is first filtered through him. Carle is a fierce potential foe whose weapons include barring access to the PM to enemies. That, of course, only adds to his list of enemies.

7. Peter Donolo

(Career Path: up)

Chrétien's much-valued communications director, or spin doctor, is a deceptively easygoing Young Turk of 37 with a fondness for awful puns and a genius for tapping the public mood. In the 1993 campaign, he put his boss into blue denim shirts and sold him on the merits of basing the campaign on the Red Book. Since the election, Donolo has championed the equally successful notion of keeping government "out of people's faces" by having ministers speak softly and refrain from extravagant promises. Chrétien ripped into Donolo when he privately urged the Prime Minister to have ministers apologize for breaking the Liberal promise to scrap the GST. Which just goes to show that even when Chrétien thinks Donolo is wrong, Donolo is right.

8. Terrie O'Leary

(Career Path: down)

With her shrewd political instincts, low tolerance of bafflegab, and willingness to bluntly tell her boss "you're dead wrong, Paul," when the occasion demands it, Finance Minister Paul Martin's executive assistant is considered by some longtime Ottawa observers to be the most effective political aide they have ever seen. The bad news for Martin are the rumblings that she may soon leave for a job in the private sector.

9. Mitchell Sharp

(Career Path: sideways)

Some dismiss the presence of the 85-year-old Sharp, Chrétien's father figure, as ceremonial. But the two men speak regularly and Sharp, despite his age and $1-a-year salary as personal adviser to Chrétien, shows up for work in the PMO every day. He is the man who first introduced Chrétien to much of his network of closest friends and supporters.

10. Gerry Yanover

(Career Path: up)

A loyal Liberal backroom worker for close to three decades, Herb Gray's executive assistant is also renowned as a shrewd talent scout who spotted and placed many of the executive assistants to cabinet ministers. That gives him a huge block of friends and supporters in key positions - and the fact that he is a close friend and onetime housemate of Eddie Goldenberg doesn't hurt.

1. David Smith

(Career Path: up)

"The PM just loves David," gushes one of Jean Chrétien's staffers, and well he should. Smith is Mr. Ontario Liberal, the party's chief organizer in the province, and the man most responsible for the fact that the Liberals won 98 of 99 Ontario seats in the last election. A roly-poly redhead, the successful lawyer and former cabinet minister oozes affability. Smith, a political junkie with an enormous appetite for work, personally handpicked stars such as Allan Rock for the 1993 election campaign, then masterminded riding nominations so Chrétien could get the candidates he wanted.

2. Ross Fitzpatrick

(Career Path: sideways)

An important fund-raiser for the party, Fitzpatrick controls Liberal fortunes in British Columbia - such as they are. Last week, Fitzpatrick, 63, retired from his position as CEO of Vancouver-based Viceroy Resource Corp. Earlier this year, he stepped down from formal duties with the party. That could indicate either a wish for a quieter life - or an appointment from Ottawa. Either way, no one underestimates his influence with Chrétien. He remains one of the few who can call the Prime Minister directly, or just drop in if he happens to be in Ottawa. The Chrétiens have, on occasion, stayed at his vineyard villa in Tuscany.

3. Senator Dan Hays

(Career Path: up)

Hays, the Liberal election platform co-chairman, plays a key role keeping recalcitrant Liberal senators in line on controversial legislation. He is conciliatory by nature and carefully spoken - to the point that some Liberal MPs openly moan when he makes one of his occasional, but lengthy, presentations to caucus. Chrétien has immense trust in him, however, and his importance will increase as the next election nears.

4. Mike Robinson

(Career Path: sideways)

Many Canadians know Robinson as the affable but sharp-tongued Liberal party defender on the weekly political panel of CTV's Canada A.M. But the senior partner in the Earnscliffe Strategy Group is also very close to Paul Martin and served as his campaign manager in the 1990 leadership campaign. Robinson is smooth and likable - and his Earnscliffe group has been at the forefront of efforts to have the lobbying industry become more open and self-policing. Perhaps because of that, his firm - which also includes prominent Conservatives - has been one of the few lobbying or consultant groups to continue to thrive in Liberal Ottawa. Other Earnscliffe partners played the lead role in devising the finance department's communications strategy in the run-up to the last three budgets. Some Chrétien loyalists are still privately suspicious of Robinson because of his ties to Martin.

5. Alfonso Gagliano

(Career Path: up)

Never mind his title: labor minister. Although Gagliano heads a largely irrelevant portfolio without much of a department under him, he has supplanted Senator Pietro Rizzuto as the man who runs the Liberals' sometimes sputtering machine in Quebec. Call him, in short, Quebec's David Dingwall: he oversees nominations in all 75 ridings in the province. That means, among other things, that he will help decide who among the 20 sitting Quebec Liberal MPs are invited to run again - and who should step aside. No one from Quebec who wants a contract, favor, appointment or high-level access to government would dream of not going through him.

6. Ed Lumley

(Career Path: up)

Insiders groan when Lumley's name is mentioned. "The only influence he has is on [Industry Minister] John Manley," groused one. But Chrétien, who took a long time to forgive Lumley for backing John Turner rather than him in the 1984 leadership race, likes his civility. Lumley is also a close friend of Paul Martin. One measure of his influence is that the Prime Minister personally asked him to brief rookie members of the Liberal caucus in 1993 on how to behave in the House of Commons.

7. Chaviva Hosek

(Career Path: up)

Hosek, a policy adviser in the Prime Minister's Office, does not have the close personal ties to Chrétien that other members of the office do. But she is widely liked, and is the person around the PMO that the old left wing of the party feels most comfortable around. She was a co-author of the 1993 Red Book, will co-author its sequel for the next campaign, and is the PMO adviser with the widest range of contacts at the grassroots level of the party and outside it.

8. Eric Maldoff

(Career Path: up)

In the early 1980s, Maldoff, a Montreal lawyer, had a high public profile as the founding president of the Alliance Quebec English rights group. Then he went underground, becoming one of Chrétien's most trusted advisers in Quebec. A close friend of Eddie Goldenberg, he was a regular member of the "War Room" committee that planned referendum strategy. More recently, he was told to "take Oka off the front pages" when appointed to mediate a dispute between Mohawks and their non-aboriginal neighbors over territory around the Quebec town. He succeeded. The Liberals would like him to run in the next election, but he probably won't.

9. John Parisella

(Career Path: up)

Parisella, a perfectly bilingual former chief of staff to both Robert Bourassa and Quebec Liberal Leader Daniel Johnson, is arguably the only Quebec provincial Liberal that the federal Liberals trust completely on constitutional issues. He serves as the unofficial bridge between Johnson and Chrétien, meeting in Ottawa with Goldenberg every couple of weeks.

10. Doug Young

(Career Path: up)

Tough, a loner, and brusque to the point of being rude, Young is like the Clint Eastwood character of spaghetti Western days - the laconic guy who rides into a department, cleans it up, and then moves on so quickly that no one is quite sure whether he's coming or going. Young did that in Transport, virtually dismantling or privatizing the entire department, then was halfway through shaking up the huge human resources department when Chrétien yanked him out last week and thrust him into the scandal-ridden defence department. Fluently bilingual and capable of peeling paint off the walls in both languages, Young will have no trouble making his points in a manner that even the lowliest buck private can understand. Then, he'll probably ride on to Chrétien's next spot.

1. Jean Chrétien

(Career Path: sideways)

The Canadian public sees a modest, down-to-earth, straight-talking Prime Minister with an obvious love for his country. His restless, grumbling caucus sees a dictatorial leader who fires backbenchers who defy him, hates admitting errors, and relies on a small circle of long-standing friends and advisers. All those descriptions are accurate. As a leader, he will waffle on an issue, then suddenly move with surprising alacrity, as he did with his cabinet shuffle last week. Polls show Chrétien to be the most popular prime minister in the last half-century, but the past year has seen him weakened by the close call in the Quebec referendum and his backtracking on promises to scrap the Goods and Services Tax. Chrétien should win the next election easily - but will he win a long-term future for a united Canada?

2. Paul Martin

(Career Path: up)

Determined to the point of being headstrong, Martin is charming, bullying, witty, demanding, quick-tempered and a quick study. In three years, he has reduced the annual deficit to a projected $24.3 billion this year from $42 billion. He is the one truly indispensable minister in Chrétien's cabinet, which is why he and the Prime Minister have been able to overcome the bitterness of their 1990 Liberal leadership battle. Martin is the first finance minister in modern history to enhance, rather than hurt, his popularity - and chances of becoming PM. Even if that never happens, he appears destined to fulfil his dream of becoming a superminister of the likes of the legendary C. D. Howe - or, for that matter, Paul Martin Sr.

3. Herb Gray

(Career Path: up)

Most Canadians see only "Gray Herb," but serious students of politics know that behind the Liberal House Leader's seemingly pedantic public image is a rock and roll aficionado who favors Bob Seeger and the Rolling Stones. Gray single-handedly keeps government on track in the House of Commons. Not even a recent bout with cancer of the throat -which is now in remission - could slow him down. Noticeably more gaunt after his treatment, he brushed off the temporary loss of his hair from chemotherapy by saying he now favored a "Bruce Willis" haircut. He cancelled his last two chemotherapy sessions and elected early surgery rather than cut back on his workload, and callers to his hospital room regularly heard the rustle of newspapers and briefs above the beeps and drones of hospital equipment. A profile in courage.

4. Mike Harris and Ralph Klein

(Career Path: sideways)

Together, the two premiers and their anti-Ottawa stances make for a message the Liberals don't necessarily like, but have to heed. Along with British Columbia, their provinces pay the freight for the rest of the country when it comes to financing equalization payments. But Harris and Klein, like most premiers, still underestimate public enthusiasm in English Canada for strong central government, and often overplay their hands.

5. Lucien Bouchard

(Career Path: down)

Last December, when Bouchard left Ottawa for provincial politics, he and Chrétien met for 45 minutes. That occasion marked the first time the two men had ever spoken outside the House of Commons. No matter what the rest of Canada may think of Bouchard, he and the underlying threat of Quebec sovereignty drive Ottawa's agenda to an extraordinary degree. His influence is weakened by a Quebec economy in freefall, internal fighting in the Parti Québécois, and the indeterminate date of the next sovereignty referendum.

6. Marcel Massé

(Career Path: down)

Yes, he's a ringer for Hercule Poirot, Agatha Christie's pear-shaped detective, and no, he will never be a household name or a dynamic speaker. But Massé provided the blueprint that allowed the Liberals to dramatically reshape the federal government, reduce its role in everything from the size of the military to the scope of social programs - and shed 45,000 jobs in the process. Still not at ease with partisan politics, he has been less prominent in the past year, and needs to define a new role for himself if he is to remain a key player.

7. David Dingwall

(Career Path: up)

If you want anything done in the Atlantic provinces involving the federal government, get the human resources minister's support. If you want an unforgiving enemy, act without telling him. Chrétien knows that Dingwall was one of his earliest and most vocal leadership supporters. Dingwall, who was dogged by controversy over patronage appointments during his previous incarnation as public works minister, has been controversy free and quietly effective in his new portfolio.

8. Anne McLellan

(Career Path: up)

A Liberal rarity: a female, rookie MP from Alberta. She also is a remarkably shrewd politician, and one of the best brains in cabinet. Despite her inexperience in her portfolio, she has won admirers in the oilpatch, and often goes head-to-head - successfully - with Environment Minister Sergio Marchi on ecology issues. Suspicious minds in the energy sector in Calgary, who always expect the Liberals to choke them with new regulations, are impressed. She has become the cabinet's voice of the West since Lloyd Axworthy, a more senior minister from Manitoba, shows little interest in being a regional spokesman. Much liked by caucus.

9. Brian Tobin

(Career Path: down)

Still joined at the hip to the Liberal caucus that he was so long a part of - and still one of Chrétien's special pets - the Newfoundland premier has supplanted Frank McKenna as the Atlantic leader with clout. But in recent months, he has become unpopular in his home province, his prime ministerial ambitions may be a bit too obvious, and federal Liberals are horrified by his decision to pick a fight with Quebec over Newfoundland's money-losing Churchill Falls hydroelectric contract.

10. Allan Rock

(Career Path: down)

Bright, bilingual and genuinely nice, Rock arrived in Ottawa in 1993, widely regarded as a man most likely to eventually succeed Jean Chrétien. Since then, he has been beaten up by small-c conservative Liberal backbenchers because of his gun control and gay rights bills. His department's awkward handling of Brian Mulroney's lawsuit against the federal government has hurt him. Rock has also appeared politically naïve in his handling of those issues, and often looks just plain exhausted by the strain of producing more legislation than any other cabinet minister.

1. Paul Desmarais

(Career Path: down)

Critics dismiss Desmarais's access as a function of the fact that one of his sons, André, is married to Jean Chrétien's daughter, France. The reality is that the founder of Power Corp. has had close ties to a variety of politicians of all stripes, including Brian Mulroney (who once worked for him as a labor lawyer), Daniel Johnson (a former Power employee), and Bob Rae (whose brother, John, is a senior Power executive). When you are as big as Desmarais, everyone answers your calls. But because he has now stepped back from a day-to-day role at Power, his influence is inevitably diminishing.

2. Laurent Beaudoin

(Career Path: down)

Bombardier Inc., with its strong international presence and high-tech image, is a symbol of both Quebec and Canadian achievement. That fact is regularly stressed by Beaudoin, the company's CEO and a resolute federalist even when federalism is unpopular in Quebec. Chrétien loves him for that, and everyone loves a business success story.

3. Charles Bronfman

(Career Path: down)

The House of Seagram has been one of Canada's best corporate citizens, contributing tens of millions of dollars to various charities - and also generously supporting the Liberal party. Bronfman's generosity on that score helps inspire others: all Liberal fund-raising efforts in Quebec begin with a call to Bronfman's longtime business associate Senator Leo Kolber. Both men are among the foremost voices of Montreal's influential Jewish community. But the feds were embarrassed by the revelation that the Bronfman family shifted $2 billion worth of Seagram Co. Ltd. stock to the United States in 1991 without paying capital gains tax. As a result, Martin last week closed that tax loophole.

4. Conrad Black

(Career Path: up)

When you control 41.8 per cent of the daily newspaper readership in Canada, people pay attention - particularly in media-conscious Ottawa. So far, Black has for the most part preferred to make his views on politics and policy known via interviews, rather than direct contact with politicians. No matter what platform he chooses, Ottawa is listening. Although his small-c conservative views might be expected to annoy Liberals, they don't take it personally: if anything, Black is toughest on ideological soul mates who disappoint him.

5. Lynton (Red) Wilson

(Career Path: sideways)

Another in a series of influential Montreal-based CEOs, Bell Canada Enterprises' Wilson is a onetime senior Ontario bureaucrat who understands the sometimes arcane fashion in which governments function. In case he forgets, he is surrounded by BCE associates with their own governmental track records, including Derek Burney, former ambassador to Washington, Peter Nicholson, a former adviser to Finance Minister Paul Martin, and former Quebec cabinet minister Richard French. Still, some insiders argue that Wilson's influence is not as great as advertised.

6. Dominic D'Alessandro

(Career Path: up)

The trilingual D'Alessandro - Italian, French and English - is a former Montrealer who recently moved to Toronto to take over the helm of Manulife Financial and now serves as a prominent link between otherwise widening solitudes in Upper and Lower Canada. His earthy manner and blunt denunciations of sovereigntists appeal to Chrétien, as does the fact that whatever city he lives in, he is always a loyal contributor to the party and is happy to persuade others to do the same.

7. Matthew Barrett

(Career Path: sideways)

Barrett, the CEO of the Bank of Montreal, has brilliantly marketed both his bank and himself as innovators in a traditionally staid field. That has attracted attention in Ottawa - although Barrett's occasional musings on such topics as Ottawa's alleged unfairness to the banks do not always win him friends. He is listened to anytime he speaks up - but not always with enthusiasm.

8. Yves Landry

(Career Path: up)

Despite his status as a Quebec francophone whose success transcends linguistic and provincial barriers, the president of Chrysler Canada is not that well known to Chrétien. But he is revered within the industry department as a visionary in the auto business - and is almost as well thought of by the Canadian Auto Workers union. A role model, Landry is not yet fully exercising his potential political clout.

9. Peter Godsoe

(Career Path: sideways)

Godsoe, the CEO of Scotiabank, does not have the public profile of the Bank of Montreal's Barrett, but when it comes time to make the big call to Martin's or Chrétien's office, he will always get through. Around Bay Street, he is regarded as solid and knowledgeable, if a bit colorless: in Ottawa, he is regarded as a Liberal - albeit a closet one who doesn't fill any active role in the party. Godsoe's late brother, Gerald, who died earlier this year, was a prominent tax lawyer with much tighter ties to the party.

10. Guy Saint-Pierre

(Career Path: down)

Never mind Saint-Pierre's recent retirement as president and CEO of SNC-Lavalin Group, his connections still extend across the country. A onetime Quebec cabinet minister who served in the Canadian military, he is an outspoken federalist whose credibility is enhanced by his successes in a variety of areas. Recently turned 62 and in good health, he is still considered to be a possible candidate for the Quebec Liberal leadership by those who would like to see him succeed Daniel Johnson - soon. Still, because of his retirement, his influence may be slightly on the wane.

1. Pierre Pettigrew

When he came to Ottawa last January, Pettigrew was regarded as the throw-in alongside Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Stéphane Dion - brought in strictly to appease more nationalist Quebec provincial Liberals. But Pettigrew, 45, who was still in his 20s when he became executive assistant to then-Quebec Liberal Leader Claude Ryan, is a seasoned political pro who has not made a misstep since coming to Ottawa. He is well thought of in the intellectual salons of Montreal and Quebec City, even by sovereigntists, and is an eloquent and eager defender of federalism. His move last week from the junior portfolio of francophone affairs to human resources shows that the PM thinks him ready for the big leagues. The question these days is whether a Quebecer can sell the merits of decentralization of social programs to suspicious English-Canadians in the rest of the country.

2. Raymond Chan

Five years ago, the Hong Kong-born Chan, then a human-rights activist, was all but unknown in the Liberal party. Now, the secretary of state (Asia-Pacific region) is one of the government's fastest-rising stars. Chrétien gave Chan - fluent in Mandarin Chinese and Cantonese - an up-front role in the two hugely successful Team Canada trade missions to Asia. At home, he is the party's conscience on human rights - and an increasingly effective Liberal fund-raiser within the Canadian-Chinese community. And his early naïveté about politics is giving way to a more shrewd understanding of realpolitik. But to really get ahead, he will have to advance beyond the backbiting that exists between most of the six members of the BC Liberal caucus.

3. Matthew Coon Come

Every time the Cree of northern Quebec appeal for international recognition of their right to self-determination if Quebec separates, sovereigntists gnash their teeth - and federalists beam. Coon Come, the Cree's media-savvy, articulate leader, knows how to play that game to the hilt. More than any other native group, Quebec's Cree have established a distinctive profile, particularly in Europe. But Coon Come has to learn to expand his influence beyond constitutional issues. And sympathy for native sovereignty could diminish once English-Canadians realize the potential effects of the same claims in the other nine provinces.

4. Brian Levitt

Almost any head of a Montreal-based corporation becomes, by definition, a key player in the unity battle. Levitt, who recently took over the job of Imasco Ltd. CEO from the retired Purdy Crawford, wears that responsibility well. Imasco, like many large corporations, goes out of its way to hire former government types who can help explain how Ottawa works. Two of the most prominent now at Imasco are Norman Spector, a former chief of staff to Brian Mulroney, and Jodi White, a well-liked longtime Tory who is close to Jean Charest. "We like this guy a lot," says an adviser to Chrétien.

5. Kevin Lynch

Industry is a department with few exclusive responsibilities, but it must work with many different ministries to succeed. Lynch, who became deputy minister last year, is credited with managing that feat. When civil servants talk about colleagues on the rise, his is the one name that always comes up.

Maclean's October 14, 1996

1. Sheila Copps

On the plus side, Chrétien likes her, seeing shades of his earlier self in her public image: overly aggressive and intellectually lightweight. But most of the Liberal caucus, along with many Chrétien advisers, think that description fits the deputy prime minister all too well - and are not charmed by her. Copps's initially dismissive manner last spring over her earlier promises to resign if the GST were not scrapped did grave damage to her public credibility, and her inability as heritage minister to protect the CBC from $127 million in budget cuts has further hurt her. She is way down in influence, but cannot be counted out.

2. Glen Clark

You would think that the leader of Canada's fastest-growing province, with the political and financial clout that implies, would automatically get a respectful hearing. But the B.C. premier shot himself in both feet with his erratic performance at last June's First Ministers' meeting, alienating Chrétien and his fellow premiers by being conciliatory inside the meeting room, then publicly denouncing them later. His knowledge of the national scene is limited by the fact that he has - in his entire life - spent all of one day in Quebec.

3. Bob White

It used to be that good relations with labor were an essential component of a successful Liberal government. In the deregulated, free-trading 1990s, that is no longer true - leaving the president of the Canadian Labour Congress on the outside looking in.

4. Daniel Johnson

When Johnson became - briefly - premier of Quebec in 1994, he appeared to be the most federalist Quebec Liberal since Jean Lesage. Since then, the Quebec Liberal leader has picked as many fights with Ottawa as with the Parti Québécois, and his prickly personality does little to endear him to federal Liberals. Chrétien, who used to praise Johnson, has during the last year privately expressed the wish that Conservative Leader Jean Charest would take the job.

5. Ovide Mercredi

During constitutional negotiations in the early 1990s, Mercredi had a status that appeared to equal that of provincial premiers. But the Liberals do not believe that the national chief of the Assembly of First Nations has real authority to speak for the country's disparate native groups. Before last June's First Ministers' meeting, Mercredi complained about the exclusion of the AFN. As a result, Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Stéphane Dion took him to a briefing dinner at a popular local restaurant. No one noticed, few complained at his exclusion, and reporters, who once made him their darling, now ignore Mercredi.