Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing

The Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing is a Canadian literary award, presented by the Writers' Trust of Canada to the best nonfiction book on Canadian political and social issues. It has been presented annually in Ottawa at the Writers’ Trust Politics and the Pen gala since 2000,[1] superseding the organization's defunct Gordon Montador Award.

The award had a dollar value in 2015 of CAD25,000.

The prize was established in honour of Shaughnessy Cohen (February 11, 1948 - December 9, 1998), an outspoken and popular Liberal Member of Parliament from Windsor, Ontario who died after suffering a cerebral hemorrhage in the House of Commons of Canada just seconds after standing to address her peers.[1] The award is sponsored by CN.


All Canadian-based publishers of original manuscripts may enter two books; companies publishing more than ten eligible nonfiction titles during the 2012 calendar year may add one book for every additional ten eligible books (or fraction thereof) on their nonfiction list, up to a maximum of five. For example, a publisher with a list of 18 qualifying nonfiction books would be entitled to submit three — two for the first ten and one for the next ten.[2]


A three-person jury selects the winner and finalists of the Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing. The jury acts independently of the Writers’ Trust and is charged with interpreting the mandate and eligibility criteria of the prize, as well as determining which of the submissions best reflect the prize mandate. In evaluating the writing, literary merit is the sole criteria. Each juror may request an unlimited number of additional titles from the publisher's lists. Such titles are on equal footing with all other submissions, provided that their publishers agree to abide by the conditions laid out in this document. The judgment of the jury in selecting the winners, determining eligibility, and interpreting these rules is final.

Winners and nominees

Year Winner Nominated
Jury: John Crosbie, Ron Graham, Peter Newman
Erna Paris, Long Shadows: Truth, Lies and History
Jury: Maggie Siggins, Pamela Wallin, Hugh Winsor
Daniel Poliquin, In the Name of the Father: An Essay on Quebec Nationalism (translated by Don Winkler)
Jury: Susan Delacourt, Bob Rae, Janice Gross Stein
John Duffy, Fights of Our Lives: Elections, Leadership and the Making of Canada
  • Stephen Clarkson, Uncle Sam and Us: Globalization, Neoconservatism, and the Canadian State
  • Colin N. Perkel, Well of Lies: The Walkerton Water Tragedy
  • John Saywell, The Lawmakers: Judicial Power and the Shaping of Canadian Federalism
  • Daniel Stoffman, Who Gets In: What’s Wrong with Canada’s Immigration Program – and How to Fix It
Jury: Clive Doucet, Margaret MacMillan, Peter Mansbridge
Roméo Dallaire, Shake Hands with the Devil: The Failure of Humanity in Rwanda
  • Jane Doe, The Story of Jane Doe
  • Julian Sher and William Marsden, The Road to Hell: How the Biker Gangs Are Conquering Canada
Jury: Pat Carney, Andrew Cohen, Marci McDonald
Jane Jacobs, Dark Age Ahead
  • Gwynne Dyer, Future: Tense: The Coming World Order
  • Jack Granatstein, Who Killed the Canadian Military?
  • Jennifer Welsh, At Home in the World: Canada’s Global Vision for the 21st Century
  • Rex Weyler, Greenpeace: How a Group of Ecologists, Journalists and Visionaries Changed the World
Jury: Sheila Copps, Bill Fox, Christopher Waddell
Miriam Shuchman, The Drug Trial: Nancy Olivieri and the Science Scandal that Rocked the Hospital for Sick Children
  • Kim Bolan, Loss of Faith: How the Air-India Bombers Got Away with Murder
  • William Johnson, Stephen Harper and the Future of Canada
  • Amy Knight, How the Cold War Began: The Gouzenko Affair and the Hunt for Soviet Spies
  • Susanne Reber and Robert Renaud, Starlight Tour: The Last, Lonely Night of Neil Stonechild
Jury: Carol Goar, Arthur Kroeger, Susan Riley
Max Nemni, Monique Nemni (authors) and William Johnson (trans.), Young Trudeau: Son of Quebec, Father of Canada, 1919-1944
  • John English, Citizen of the World: The Life of Pierre Elliott Trudeau, Volume 1: 1919-1968
  • Eddie Goldenberg, The Way It Works: Inside Ottawa
  • Allan Gotlieb, The Washington Diaries, 1981-1989
  • Carol Off, Bitter Chocolate: Investigating the Dark Side of the World’s Most Seductive Sweet
Jury: Robert Bothwell, Lawrence Martin, Brigitte Pellerin
Janice Gross Stein and Eugene Lang, The Unexpected War: Canada in Kandahar
  • Clive Doucet, Urban Meltdown: Cities, Climate Change and Politics as Usual
  • Richard Gwyn, John A: The Man Who Made Us; The Life and Times of John A. Macdonald, Volume One: 1815–1867
  • Andrea Mandel-Campbell, Why Mexicans Don’t Drink Molson
  • David E. Smith, The People’s House of Commons: Theories of Democracy in Contention
Jury: Chantal Hébert, William Johnson, David Walmsley
James Orbinski, An Imperfect Offering: Humanitarian Action in the Twenty-first Century
  • Daphne Bramham, The Secret Lives of Saints: Child Brides and Lost Boys in Canada’s Polygamous Mormon Sect
  • Erna Paris, The Sun Climbs Slow: Justice in the Age of Imperial America
  • Marie Wadden, Where the Pavement Ends: Canada’s Aboriginal Recovery Movement and the Urgent Need for Reconciliation
  • Chris Wood, Dry Spring: The Coming Water Crisis of North America
Jury: Andrew Nikiforuk, Erna Paris, Michael Petrou
John English, Just Watch Me: The Life of Pierre Elliott Trudeau, 1968-2000
  • Terry Gould, Murder Without Borders: Dying for the Story in the World’s Most Dangerous Places
  • Rudyard Griffiths, Who We Are: A Citizen’s Manifesto
  • James Maskalyk, Six Months in Sudan: A Young Doctor in a War-Torn Village
  • Daniel Poliquin, René Lévesque
Jury: L. Ian MacDonald, Rosemary Spiers, Paul Wells
Anna Porter, The Ghosts of Europe: Central Europe's Past and Uncertain Future
  • Tim Cook, The Madman and the Butcher: The Sensational Wars of Sam Hughes and General Arthur Currie
  • Shelagh D. Grant, Polar Imperatives: A History of Arctic Sovereignty in North America
  • Lawrence Martin, Harperland: The Politics of Control
  • Doug Saunders, Arrival City: The Final Migration and our Next World
Jury: David Akin, Charlotte Gray, Janice Gross Stein
Richard Gwyn, Nation Maker: Sir John A. Macdonald: His Life, Our Times; Volume Two: 1867-1891[3]
  • Ron Graham, The Last Act: Pierre Trudeau, the Gang of Eight, and the Fight for Canada
  • Max Nemni, Monique Nemni (authors) and George Tombs (translator), Trudeau Transformed: The Shaping of a Statesman, 1944-1965
  • Andrew Nikiforuk, Empire of the Beetle: How Human Folly and a Tiny Bug Are Killing North America’s Great Forests
  • Jacques Poitras, Imaginary Line: Life on an Unfinished Border
Jury: Ed Broadbent, Tasha Kheiriddin, Daniel Poliquin
Marcello Di Cintio, Walls: Travels Along the Barricades
  • Taras Grescoe, Straphanger: Saving Our Cities and Ourselves from the Automobile
  • Noah Richler, What We Talk About When We Talk About War
  • Jeffrey Simpson, Chronic Condition: Why Canada’s Health-Care System Needs to be Dragged into the 21st Century
  • Peter Trent, The Merger Delusion: How Swallowing Its Suburbs Made an Even Bigger Mess of Montreal
Jury: Licia Corbella, Jane O'Hara, Doug Saunders
Paul Wells, The Longer I'm Prime Minister: Stephen Harper and Canada, 2006
Jury: Denise Chong, Terry Glavin, Jane Taber
Joseph Heath, Enlightenment 2.0: Restoring Sanity to Our Politics, Our Economy, and Our Lives
Jury: Tim Cook, Robyn Doolittle, Antonia Maioni
John Ibbitson, Stephen Harper[7]
  • Greg Donaghy, Grit: The Life and Politics of Paul Martin Sr.
  • Norman Hillmer, O.D. Skelton: A Portrait of Canadian Ambition
  • Andrew Nikiforuk, Slick Water: Fracking and One Insider’s Stand Against the World’s Most Powerful Industry
  • Sheila Watt-Cloutier, The Right To Be Cold: One Woman’s Story of Protecting Her Culture, the Arctic, and the Whole Planet
Jury: Nahlah Ayed, Colby Cosh, Megan Leslie.
Kamal Al-Solaylee, Brown: What Being Brown in the World Today Means (To Everyone)[9]
  • Christie Blatchford, Life Sentence: Stories from Four Decades of Court Reporting — Or, How I Fell Out of Love with the Canadian Justice System (Especially Judges)
  • Ian McKay and Jamie Swift, The Vimy Trap: Or, How We Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Great War
  • James McLeod, Turmoil, as Usual: Politics in Newfoundland and Labrador and the Road to the 2015 Election
  • Noah Richler, The Candidate: Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail
Jury: Taiaiake Alfred, Joseph Heath, Kady O'Malley.
Tanya Talaga, Seven Fallen Feathers: Racism, Death, and Hard Truths in a Northern City[11]
  • Christopher Dummitt, Unbuttoned: A History of Mackenzie King’s Secret Life
  • Carol Off, All We Leave Behind: A Reporter’s Journey into the Lives of Others
  • Sandra Perron, Out Standing in the Field: A Memoir by Canada’s First Female Infantry Officer
  • Ted Rowe, Robert Bond: The Greatest Newfoundlander
2018[12] Rachel Giese, Boys: What It Means to Become a Man[13]
  • Abu Bakr Al-Rabeeah and Winnie Yeung, Homes: A Refugee Story
  • Sarah Cox, Breaching the Peace: The Site C Dam and a Valley’s Stand Against Big Hydro
  • Jacques Poitras Pipe Dreams: The Fight for Canada’s Energy Future
  • Harley Rustad, Big Lonely Doug: The Story of One of Canada’s Last Great Trees


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