Books

André Picard and Jody Wilson-Raybould among finalists for inaugural $60K Balsillie Prize for Public Policy

The annual award honours well-researched nonfiction works that contribute to policy discussions on social, political, economic and cultural topics.

The new literary award celebrates outstanding nonfiction books on public policy

André Picard and Jody Wilson-Raybould are on the shortlist for the Writers' Trust Balsillie Prize for Public Policy. (andrepicard.com, Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press)

Montreal journalist André Picard and former politician Jody Wilson-Raybould are two of the four authors shortlisted for the first Writers' Trust Balsillie Prize for Public Policy.

(Random House Canada)

Established in 2021, the annual award honours well-researched nonfiction works that contribute to policy discussions on social, political, economic and cultural topics relevant to Canadian society, engaging both policymakers and the general public.

The full shortlist:

Picard's Neglected No More is a look at how we came to embrace mass institutionalization and presents the necessary steps needed to improve the state of care for our elders. The book reflects on the horrific impact of COVID-19 as it spread through seniors' residences across Canada, which exposed the decades-old systemic neglect toward elders in our society.

Picard is a health reporter and columnist for the Globe and Mail. He is a frequent guest on CBC programs such as The Current and The National.

The jury called the book a "wake-up call" in a statement: "It is an urgent, powerful appeal to the nation and a blueprint for treating all seniors with the dignity, respect and compassion they deserve."

The jury is composed of Samantha Nutt, Taki Sarantakis and Scott Young. 

WATCH | André Picard discusses long-term care during the COVID-19 pandemic:

André Picard on treating seniors with dignity after COVID-19 exposed a crisis

8 months ago
6:42
COVID-19 has stolen the lives of many seniors, especially residents of long-term care. Columnist and author André Picard talks to Adrienne Arsenault about how seniors could be better served and his new book, Neglected No More. 6:42

Wilson-Raybould was shortlisted for her memoir, Indian in the Cabinet.

(HarperCollins)

Elected in 2015, Wilson-Raybould was Canada's first Indigenous minister of justice and attorney general in the cabinet. Her initial optimism about the possibilities of enacting change while in Cabinet shifted to struggles over inclusivity, deficiencies of political will and concerns about adherence to core principles of our democracy. She shares her story in this memoir.

"I sat around a cabinet table and realized I was looked upon not as a proud Indigenous person with a different worldview and opinions and expertise, but simply as an Indian," Wilson-Raybould said in an interview with The Current.

Based in Vancouver, Wilson-Raybould is the former justice minister for Trudeau's Liberal parliament. She resigned from the cabinet after the months-long SNC-Lavalin affair. Wilson-Raybould is also the author of From Where I Stand.

"This book is Wilson-Raybould's plea that Canadians not take our institutions for granted," said the jury in a statement.

WATCH |  Jody Wilson-Raybould discusses the importance of her family:

'My sister was always there': How family gave MP Jody Wilson-Raybould strength in trying times

2 years ago
15:55
The Vancouver MP and her sister Kory describe how they've got each other's backs for life. 15:55
 

In his nominated book On Borrowed Time, Gregor Craigie, host of CBC's On the Island, interviews scientists, engineers and emergency response personnel about how to prepare for major earthquakes in British Columbia, as well as other parts of Canada.

Dan Breznitz, a professor at the University of Toronto, rounds out the shortlist with Innovation in Real Places. The book explores how many cities have gambled — and lost — on pursuing Silicon Valley's economic model. It also looks at how other places have flourished without relying on the high-tech sector.

The finalists were selected from 69 titles, submitted by 34 publishers.

The winner will be announced on Wednesday, Nov. 24 and will be awarded $60,000.

The Inaugural Balsillie Prize is funded by businessman and philanthropist Jim Balsillie as part of his $3 million donation to Writers' Trust to support Canadian literature.

"My hope is the shortlist will inspire discussions and debate at home and in policy communities that ultimately contribute to the development of smart public policy for our country," Balsillie said in a statement.

He also funded the $60,000 Atwood Gibson Writers' Trust Fiction Prize, recently renamed after Margaret Atwood and Graeme Gibson, founders of Writers' Trust of Canada. 

The Writers' Trust of Canada is an organization that supports Canadian writers through literary awards, fellowships, financial grants, mentorships and more. 

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