Andrew Leach, Age: 39
Influential because: He’s changing the conversation around energy for the better
Last June, Andrew Leach returned from a secondment to Environment Canada to his post as a professor at the University of Alberta’s School of Business. And while most people would have taken the summer to relax, Leach got right back to work at his other job – as the unofficial voice of reason in the increasingly strident debates over energy, the oil sands and the future of the Canadian economy. Whether it was through his hyperactive Twitter account, on his blog, in the pages of Maclean’s magazine or in person, he waded out into conversations defined by hyperbole and hysteria and introduced a much-needed helping of facts, context and balance. Perhaps his finest moment in that role, and certainly his most public, was when he appeared on CBC’s Q to push – gently – against some of the things Neil Young had said about the oil sands during his visit on the show. But Leach isn’t one to preach to the choir, and he’s offended partisans on both sides of the proverbial orchestra pit. That’s something that Alberta – and Canada – desperately needs.