Gary Stanford
Hometown: Cardston
Influential because: He asked, Are we an oil country before all else?

He’s the farmer who’s taking on the rail man and the oil man at the same time. For the first time since perhaps the 1870s, railways have become an everyday conversation in Canada, thanks to oil by rail. Stanford made the discussion stop its ­preoccupation with safety and address capacity – specifically the capacity of Canada’s rail ribbon to move the staple that it was actually built to move: grains. And it just so happens that the staple had a bumper crop in 2013, up 33 per cent from 2012. About 60 million tonnes of grain were effectively stranded in elevators or on fields. So Stanford has a big point behind his rhetoric.

He took the message not only to the Canadian public but to importers around the world and to influential politicians. And he framed the railways’ less than satisfying response as only a farmer could. “If during harvest time my combine broke, I’d have to find another to get it done,” he said. “Find another locomotive and get it going.”