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Donner Prize goes to book critiquing scope of prime minister’s power

A book criticizing the ever-growing influence of Canada’s Prime Minister’s Office has won the $50,000 Donner Prize.

The Donner Canadian Foundation named Democratizing the Constitution: Reforming Responsible Government by Peter Aucoin, Mark D. Jarvis, and Lori Turnbull (Emond Montgomery Publications) the best book on public policy by a Canadian author Tuesday night at a gala in Toronto.

In a press release, the prize jury called the book “an important and timely book — one that calls into question the legitimacy of our most fundamental institutions of democracy.” The jury was made up of Anne McLellan, acting academic director at University of Alberta’s Institute for United States Policy Studies; Marcel Boyer, professor emeritus at Université de Montréal; Wendy Dobson, professor at University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management; Kevin Lynch, vice-chair of BMO Financial Group; and Denis Stairs, professor emeritus at Dalhousie University.

It was a bittersweet win for Democratizing the Constitution – co-author Aucoin, a professor emeritus of political science and public administration at Dalhousie University, passed away in July.

The other finalists, who each received $7,500, were:

  • Toward Improving Canada’s Skilled Immigration Policy: An Evaluation Approach by Charles M. Beach, Alan G. Green, and Christopher Worswick (C.D. Howe Institute)
  • Museum Pieces: Toward the Indigenization of Canadian Museums by Ruth B. Phillips (McGill-Queen’s University Press)
  • XXL: Obesity and the Limits of Shame by Neil Seeman and Patrick Luciani (University of Toronto Centre for Public Management)

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Finalists for $50,000 Donner Prize announced

Allan Gotlieb, chair of the Donner Canadian Foundation, revealed the shortlist for this year’s $50,000 Donner Prize. The four nominated books on public policy by Canadian authors touch on inclusivity in museum practices, obesity and global public health, Constitutional reform, and immigration policy for skilled workers.

The finalists for the 14th annual award are:

  • Museum Pieces: Toward the Indigenization of Canadian Museums, Ruth B. Phillips (McGill-Queen’s University Press)
  • XXL: Obesity and the Limits of Shame, Neil Seeman and Patrick Luciani (University of Toronto Press)
  • Democratizing the Constitution: Reforming Responsible Government, Peter Aucoin, Mark D. Jarvis, and Lori Turnbull (Emond Montgomery Publications)
  • Toward Improving Canada’s Skilled Immigration Policy: An Evaluation Approach, Charles M. Beach, Alan G. Green, and Christopher Worswick (C.D. Howe Institute)

The winner will be named at an awards ceremony in Toronto on May 1. Each runner-up will receive $7,500. In the past, the prize has been presented to Doug Saunders (Arrival City, 2010) and Brian Bow (The Politics of Linkage, 2009).

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Donner Prize increases purse to $50,000

The Donner Canadian Foundation has increased the purse for its prize in public policy writing from $35,000 to $50,000. Allan Gotlieb, chair of the foundation, also announced Monday that the amount awarded to shortlisted authors will go up to $7,500, from $5,000, in time for the 2012 contest.

“The increase in prize monies reinforces our ongoing commitment to encouraging and celebrating excellence in public policy writing by Canadians, on topics of great importance to Canadians,” Gotlieb stated via press release.

The statement included a call for submissions (with a deadline of Nov. 30). The jury for the 2012 prize was also introduced: Anne McClellan, former Liberal MP for Edmonton Centre; Marcel Boyer, professor emeritus at Université de Montréal; Wendy Dobson, co-director of the Institute for International Business at the University of Toronto; Kevin Lynch, vice-chair at BMO Financial Group; and Denis Stairs, professor emeritus at Dalhousie University.

Launched in 1998, the Donner Prize puts the spotlight on “the best public policy thinking, writing and research by a Canadian, and the role it plays in determining the well-being of Canadians and the success of Canada as a whole” and provides a platform for Canadian writers and researchers in public policy who “make an original and meaningful contribution to policy discourse.”

Previous winners include Arrival City by Doug Saunders (Knopf Canada), The Politics of Linkage by Brian Bow (UBC Press), and Arctic Front: Defending Canada in the Far North by Ken S. Coates, P. Whitney Lackenbauer, William R. Morrison, and Greg Poelzer (Thomas Allen Publishers).

The cash infusion makes the Donner Prize one of the richest awards for non-fiction in Canada and the highest amount for a yearly prize for policy-related writing. The Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for non-fiction and the B.C. National Award for Canadian Non-fiction, which recognize literary non-fiction, have top prizes of $60,000 and $40,000, respectively. The Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing offers $25,000 to the winner and $2,500 to finalists.

The shortlist will be revealed in March, and the winner announced at a Toronto gala in May.

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Doug Saunders, Tom Flanagan on Donner Prize shortlist

The shortlist for the 2010–2011 Donner Prize, which awards excellence in Canadian public policy writing, has been announced.

Selected from 69 submissions, the five finalists are:

  • Pamela Blais, Perverse Cities: Hidden Subsidies, Wonky Policy, and Urban Sprawl (UBC Press)
  • Tom Flanagan, Christopher Alcantara and André Le Dressay with foreword by C.T. (Manny) Jules, Beyond the Indian Act: Restoring Aboriginal Property Rights (McGill-Queen’s University Press)
  • Robert Lacroix and Louis Maheu, Le CHUM, une tragédie québécoise (Les Éditions du Boréal)
  • Doug Saunders, Arrival City: The Final Migration and Our Next World (Knopf Canada)
  • Harry Swain, Oka: A Political Crisis and its Legacy (Douglas & McIntyre)

The Donner Prize winner, who receives $35,000, will be revealed on April 27 at a ceremony in Toronto.

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Eva Stachniak's Empress of the Night

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Eva Stachniak smiles as she signs a copy of Empress of the Night for a fan

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