Preston Manning, Age: 72
Influential because: He’s bringing the federal conservative movement back to its roots – again
And you thought Preston Manning had ridden off into the sunset. Yes, the former co-founder and leader of the Reform Party of Canada retired from federal politics in 2002, but that doesn’t mean he’s left public life. His Manning Centre for Building Democracy has played an increasingly influential role in a variety of national conversations, but it’s the annual Manning Centre Networking Conference that’s really making waves. Now in its sixth year, the two-day event evolved from an annual get-together for Canada’s leading conservative thinkers into a place where conversations about the future of the conservative movement in Canada can take place. And while those conversations aren’t openly hostile towards the Conservative Party of Canada, the fact that they’re taking place at the Manning Centre rather than the party’s national convention is telling. If things go sour at the national level, well, it’s not hard to imagine the party’s grassroots reorganizing themselves around Manning – again.