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A consensus is built into the dna of our power 50 lists. Every year I spend a month or so meeting with people who notice and track power, seeking their input while developing a long list of influencers. It’s a punishing round of lunches and pastries. Then another group of 16 or so meet at the Vancouver Club, where their observations, criticisms, championings, and, yes, scurrilous gossip make for one of the liveliest dinner-table conversations of my year. It’s an honour to be able to call up some of the city’s smartest business people, academics, recovering politicians, and journalists for help, and I’m confident the results are stronger for their contributions-though any missteps are, of course, the magazine’s.
Out of this year’s conversations emerged one central theme: business is stronger, success more certain, when everyone is engaged by your enterprise. That was certainly true within the city. As I write, the municipal election is still in the future, but one key factor is already evident: neighbourhood groups and special-interest coalitions across the political spectrum will no longer be silent; they demand a voice and a place at the planning table, and although participatory democracy inevitably brings delay, any final agreement that enjoys broad buy-in will be only that much stronger. Strong, too, are those leaders and visionaries who welcome meaningful, informed collaboration. (Hence, No. 1 on this year’s list, pg. 46.)
Nowhere was the importance of consensus more visible than following the landmark Supreme Court decision this summer in favour of the Tsilhqot’in First Nation’s title claim over its land in the Cariboo-Chilcotin. We’ve only begun to comprehend the implications of Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin’s judgment, but already it’s clear that development, resource management, and social justice across this province can’t evolve without the full and empowered involvement of aboriginal peoples. Again, the process will be slow, sometimes agonizingly so, but the outcome, we must hope, will be the stronger for it-just as I hope the spotlight we shine on this year’s 50 nominees is all the brighter and more focused thanks to the many who helped to power it.