Veteran political journalist Paul Wells has won the $25,000 Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for his book The Longer I'm Prime Minister: Stephen Harper and Canada.

Wells, the political editor for Maclean's magazine, was unveiled as the winner for the prime ministerial portrait on  Wednesday evening in Ottawa, at the annual Politics and the Pen fundraiser for the Writers' Trust of Canada.

"Wells has crafted a fast-paced, romping great read about a prime minister who is frequently described by the Parliamentary Press Gallery as dull, plodding, and inscrutable," the three-member jury — comprising Licia Corbella of the Calgary Herald, journalist Jane O'Hara and Doug Saunders of the Globe and Mail — said in its citation.

"Though viscerally funny and often biting, this book is never partisan or unfair. Impeccably researched, gorgeously written, and deeply insightful, The Longer I'm Prime Minister is an essential read for all political junkies."

Wells also wrote about Harper in his previous book, Right Side Up: The Fall of Paul Martin and the Rise of Stephen Harper's New Conservatism.

This year's other finalists, who each receive $ 2,500, were:

  • Margaret MacMillan for The War That Ended Peace: The Road to 1914.
  • Charles Montgomery for Happy City: Transforming Our Lives Through Urban Design.
  • Donald J. Savoie for Whatever Happened to the Music Teacher? How Government Decides and Why.
  • Graeme Smith for The Dogs Are Eating Them Now: Our War in Afghanistan.

Established in honour of the late, outspoken MP from Windsor, Ont., the Shaughnessy Cohen Prize celebrates a compelling 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."

Past winners have included Richard Gwyn for his John A. Macdonald biography Nation Maker, Jane Jacobs for Dark Age Ahead and Roméo Dallaire for Shake Hands with the Devil.