Dr. James Talbot, Age: 60
Hometown: Ottawa
Influential because: He challenged the belief that the oil sands cause cancer

It’s hard to speak truth to emotion, but Dr. James Talbot did just that in 2013. Up until a few years ago, Fort Chipewyan was unknown to most people. Then, residents started complaining of what they believe are higher-than-normal rates of cancer. Dr. John O’Connor, a physician in the community, pushed Fort Chipewyan’s concerns to the wider world. In 2013, into this heated debate stepped Dr. Talbot, who released a government study into cancer in Fort Chipewyan that showed cancer rates were, he said, “no different than expected.” Cervical cancer and lung cancer rates were higher, Dr. Talbot said, but those were attributable to HPV exposure and to high smoking rates. While bile-duct cancers were higher than usual in Fort Chipewyan, “The perception in Fort Chipewyan is that there is more cancer and to some extent it’s true,” he told the Edmonton Journal. “But this is a ­discussion we are having everywhere in the province … It’s not unique to this community.”