14. Hunter Harrison

CEO of Canadian Pacific Railway

November 17, 2015

By Staff / Photo: REUTERS/Mike Sturk

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Age: 71 | First Appearance

A CEO who lives in Connecticut and runs a company headquartered in Calgary may seem an odd choice for this city’s Power 50. But the company is CP—the railway that helped build Canada—and the war it’s waging over the fate of the Arbutus corridor speaks directly to the theme of this list: Whose city is it?

Hunter Harrison, 71, son of a Memphis police officer and a notoriously tough “big personality,” was brought in to turn CP around in 2012, after the vicious proxy fight led by a U.S. hedge-fund mogul that ousted former CEO Fred Green and remade the CP board. One of Harrison’s mantras is to “optimize assets.” That’s why CP moved its headquarters from downtown Calgary out to CP’s under-utilized Ogden Yards, and it’s why the fate of some long-disused, CP-owned real estate in Shaughnessy is the focus of an increasingly intense battle here. CP’s hardball tactics—tearing out community gardens, threatening to store railway cars in the midst of a pricey residential neighbourhood—have put tremendous pressure on city hall to come up with a win-win solution.

Whether it’s trading city-owned property for CP-owned land elsewhere, or having a developer buy the Arbutus lands and then gift much of it back to the city (or something else altogether), the resolution of this showdown will shape the way the city evolves for years to come.

To see who else made 2015’s Power 50, click here >>

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