Writers’ Trust Press Release: Announcing the Shaughnessy Cohen Prize finalists

Writers’ Trust announces finalists for 20th anniversary Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing.

Shortlist features hot button topics such as Indigenous justice, diplomacy with China, and the quest for a UN Security Council seat.

July 29, 2020 – Toronto –  The Writers’ Trust of Canada has named five finalists for the 20th annual $25,000 Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing. The winner will be announced on the evening of September 23, 2020 via a digital edition of the annual Politics and the Pen gala.

The finalist books explore timely topics such as the Canadian justice system, including its relations with Indigenous communities; Canada-China diplomatic relations; and the federal government’s longstanding pursuit of a UN Security Council seat. Finalists were selected by a jury composed of three experts on Canadian political affairs: the late Greg Donaghy, a federal government historian and 2015 prize finalist; Althia Raj, HuffPost Canada’s Ottawa bureau chief; and Paula Simons, an Independent Senator and former Edmonton Journal columnist.

The finalists are:

Adam Chapnick for Canada on the United Nations Security Council: A Small Power on a Large Stage, published by UBC Press.

“Chapnick’s timely work of history takes us behind the scenes of Canada’s various campaigns for a seat on the United Nations Security Council,” said the jury. “The book gives us both a gossipy insider’s view of the politicking that goes into a Security Council bid and a brisk analysis of what Canada did – or did not – accomplish during its various stints on the Council. It’s a rare work of serious academic history that is this entertaining.”

Adam Chapnick is the deputy director of education at the Canadian Forces College and a professor of defence studies at the Royal Military College of Canada. He is a two-time finalist for the J.W. Dafoe Book Prize for his biography of diplomat John Wendell Holmes and his account of Canada’s role in the formation of the United Nations. He lives in Toronto.

Harold R. Johnson for Peace and Good Order: The Case for Indigenous Justice in Canada, published by McClelland & Stewart.

“Former Crown Prosecutor Johnson draws on his own personal experiences to offer up a cogent analysis of the failures of Canada’s courts and to present an alternate reality, a vision of a culturally grounded justice system that could help to heal, not harm, vulnerable communities,” said the jury. “With a voice that is fresh and fierce, Johnson issues a challenge to Canada’s politicians – and to all Treaty people – to rethink the meaning of peace and good order.”

Harold R. Johnson is the author of five works of fiction and five works of nonfiction, including Firewater: How Alcohol Is Killing My People (and Yours) which was a finalist for a Governor General’s Literary Award. He is a member of the Montreal Lake Cree Nation and lives on his family trapline outside La Ronge, Saskatchewan.

Jonathan Manthorpe for Claws of the Panda: Beijing’s Campaign of Influence and Intimidation in Canada, published by Cormorant Books.

“Manthorpe has written a provocative history of Canada’s long, conflicted relationship with the People’s Republic of China,” said the jury. “Accusing generations of Canadian policymakers of willful naivety, he argues that Communist Beijing has engaged in a sustained campaign of espionage, intimidation, and illicit persuasion in Canada to advance its national interests. Claws of the Panda sounds a national alarm just as current tensions between Canada and China escalate.”

Jonathan Manthorpe is the author of three books on international relations, politics, and history. Over his 40-year career as a journalist he has been the foreign correspondent in Asia, Africa, and Europe for Southam News; the European bureau chief for the Toronto Star; and the national political reporter for The Globe and Mail. He now lives in Victoria.

Beverley McLachlin for Truth Be Told: My Journey Through Life and the Law, published by Simon & Schuster Canada.

“This memoir — the first by a Canadian Supreme Court justice — offers a unique and tantalizing glimpse of the Court’s personal dynamics and its operations,” said the jury. “Marked by a storyteller’s sure touch, McLachlin traces her path from small-town girl in Pincher Creek, Alberta, to pioneer woman lawyer, to first woman chief justice of the Supreme Court of Canada. It is essential reading for anyone interested in the intersection of law and politics in Canada.”

Beverley McLachlin was Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada from 2000 to 2017. She is the first woman to hold that position and the longest-serving Chief Justice in Canadian history. In 2018, McLachlin became a Companion of the Order of Canada. Her debut novel, Full Disclosure, was a national bestseller. She lives in Ottawa.

Kent Roach for Canadian Justice, Indigenous Injustice: The Gerald Stanley and Colten Boushie Case, published by McGill-Queen’s University Press.

“A highly readable autopsy of a controversial criminal case that rocked the nation, Roach’s book meticulously details the gaps and failings of Canada’s justice system and the systemic racism that it harbours,” said the jury. “It is a powerful eye opener, one grounded in facts, from a sloppy investigation to questionable court tactics and instructions. You may think you know this case, but you will walk away from this work with a richer perspective.”

Kent Roach is professor of law and Prichard-Wilson Chair of Law and Public Policy at the University of Toronto Faculty of Law. He is a former law clerk to Supreme Court Justice Bertha Wilson and has been the editor-in-chief of Criminal Law Quarterly for two decades. In 2015, he was appointed a Member of the Order of Canada. Roach lives in Oakville, Ontario.

The shortlisted titles are available in accessible formats<http://www.celalibrary.ca/awards?utm_source=Award+%2B+Program+Announcements&utm_campaign=b05031a778-EMAIL_SCohenShortlist_2019_04_2_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_bc760d3004-b05031a778-> for different types of print disability through the Centre for Equitable Library Access (CELA).

Each prize finalist receives $2,500. For more information on this year’s finalists visit writerstrust.com/ShaughnessyCohen[1][1]<https://www.writerstrust.com/ShaughnessyCohen?utm_source=Award+%2B+Program+Announcements&utm_campaign=b05031a778-EMAIL_SCohenShortlist_2019_04_2_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_bc760d3004-b05031a778->.

Download images of the nominated authors and their books.<https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1VHKc4GPgRuIv1IuwD_cE0VICWOoq7B7Z?usp=sharing&utm_source=Award+%2B+Program+Announcements&utm_campaign=b05031a778-EMAIL_SCohenShortlist_2019_04_2_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_bc760d3004-b05031a778->

About the Prize:
Now in its 20th year, the prize is awarded annually for a book of literary nonfiction that captures a political subject of relevance to Canadian readers and has the potential to shape or influence thinking on Canadian political life. The winning work combines compelling new insights with depth of research and is of significant literary merit. The prize particularly values books that provide the general reader with an informed, unique perspective on the practice of Canadian politics, its players, or its principles.

The Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing was established in honour of the outspoken and popular Member of Parliament from Windsor, Ontario.

Read the press release:
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About Politics and the Pen:
Politics and the Pen is a highlight of the capital’s social calendar and an important annual fundraising event benefiting the Writers’ Trust. The in-person event regularly attracts 500 guests from Canada’s political and literary circles. The 2020 digital event will feature a special presentation of the 20th Shaughnessy Cohen Prize as well as memorable moments from past galas. To date, Politics and the Pen has raised more than $4.5 million to support the programs of the Writers’ Trust.

About the Writers’ Trust:
The Writers’ Trust of Canada is a charitable organization that seeks to advance, nurture, and celebrate Canadian writers and writing through a portfolio of programs including ten national literary awards, a fellowship, financial grants, career development initiatives for emerging writers, and a writers’ retreat. Writers’ Trust programming is designed to champion excellence in Canadian writing, to improve the status of writers, and to create connections between writers and readers. Canada’s writers receive more financial support from the Writers’ Trust than from any other non-governmental organization or foundation in the country. Additional information is available at writerstrust.com.