Canada Writes

Rules & Regulations

1. Concept

Canada Writes is a writing game for Canadians from all walks of life, writing in any of the following popular genres: blogs, songs, rants, ads, movie pitches. There are two ways to play: on-air and online.

1.1 The Canada Writes radio game

In an initial phase, a writing contest initiated by CBC Radio’s GO! produces a list of 20 semi-finalists from across Canada, 10 in the East (Ontario and east) and 10 in the West and North (all points west and north). An audition process reduces that list to 4 semi-finalists for the Eastern games in Halifax (March 14, 2009) and 4 semi-finalists for the Western games in Vancouver (taped on April 3, 2009), both hosted on-air by CBC Radio’s GO!. Two finalists from each game (for a total of 4 finalists) compete on the finals of Canada Writes on GO! on April 18, 2009.

On-air contestants will be asked to write one to four timed writing challenges (with a one-hour time limit or less, in the case of the lightning rounds) in different popular categories. They will then present their work in an entertaining manner to three celebrity judges, a national radio audience and a studio audience. The judges will determine the winner over the course of three to four rounds.

1.2 The Canada Writes online challenge

Once the radio games begin, all Canadians can play along online. They can take five of the same timed writing challenges in one hour (or less) over the course of five weeks.

Canadians can also read the work of other online contestants, and rate their favourites. A People’s Choice winner will be announced on GO! on April 18 and will be posted online on April 20.

2. Prizes

Semi-finalists (4 per region, for a total of 8) will have their entries and bios posted on the Canada Writes website and will also receive a Canada Writes embossed leather organizer with 8.5” x 11” writing pad (approximate value: $35.00).

National finalists (3) and the People’s Choice winner of the online game (1) will receive an Ipod Touch (approximate value $250.00).

The top prize will be a laptop computer (approximate value: $1,200.00).

3. Eligibility of the candidates

Candidates for the on-air game and participants in the online challenge must be Canadian citizens or permanent residents of Canada. (Game show candidates must be living in Canada during the run of the contest and on-air game.) Candidates for the game show and online participants must be of the age of majority. Candidates and online participants must not be considered a minor in their province or territory of residence at the date of their registration. Directors, officers and employees of CBC/Radio-Canada as well as their immediate family (father-mother, brother-sister, son-daughter) and persons living under the same roof are not eligible to enter the game.

4. Registration

To enter both the Canada Writes game show and the online challenge, participants must submit a writing sample using the entry form on Only entries submitted online will be accepted. The writing sample must not exceed 200 words, with no minimum word limit. The writing sample must be unpublished, unpaid material (with the exception of blog samples which may already have been posted online, though unpaid). All participants must submit their name, address, telephone number, and e-mail address. In the online challenge, only one entry per challenge will be accepted.

Entry forms become the property of CBC, free of any compensation or charges, and will not be returned to contestants. All submissions must be original and not infringe copyright or the rights of any other party, individual or otherwise, including but not limited to any person, group, entity, or company. By entering the contest, each participant shall waive any and all moral rights over his/her entry and grant CBC an irrevocable licence to use of the work on-air or online: the entries may be read and aired on CBC Radio One in whole or in part, or online, on any websites or platforms related to the CBC, without any compensation being payable to the participant.

No purchase necessary. The odds of winning a prize are directly related to the number of eligible participants and the selection process.

4.1 Qualifying for Canada Writes regional semi-finals

A maximum of four (4) regional finalists will be selected in each of 2 regions (East and West/North). The selection process for the region you are entering in will be determined by your postal code. You cannot enter in a different region from the one you are living in. The writing contest opens on January 10, 2009, and closes at midnight ET on February 7, 2009.

5. Selection Of The Candidates

5.1 Selection of the regional semi-finalists

In each of the two Canada Writes regions, ten (10) entries will be shortlisted by the Canada Writes / GO! production team. Short-listed regional texts will be posted online on the Canada Writes website, along with a short bio of the regional semi-finalists (and photographs where possible). Four (4) semi-finalists in each region—a total of eight (8)--will be selected as game-show participants on the basis of an audition. The audition consists of a telephone interview and timed writing challenge conducted by the Canada Writes / GO! production team.

Upon selection of the semi-finalists, each semi-finalist will be contacted by telephone or by e-mail. If a semi-finalist refuses or does not respond within five (5) days, or if a semi-finalist cannot be contacted in the same period, a new semi-finalist will be selected. Selected semi-finalists must be available for rehearsals prior to the game and the live broadcast or taping of the game in either Halifax (afternoon rehearsal on March 13, 2009, and game show on the morning of March 14, 2009) or Vancouver (afternoon rehearsal and evening game show taping on April 3, 2009), as well as for the finals in Toronto (afternoon rehearsal on April 17, 2009 and morning taping on April 18, 2009). The CBC will offer travel, accommodation when necessary, and some meals. Semi-finalists must also be available for promotional purposes during the weeks leading up to the national phase of the game

5.2 Selection of the four (4) national finalists

The regional semi-finals will be held before a live audience and will be broadcast on CBC Radio’s GO!. Regional judges with a background in popular writing – eg, comedy writers, songwriters, bloggers, advertisers, screenwriters—will choose two (2) finalists in each region (East and West/North). The four (4) winners emerging from the two semi-finals will compete in the Canada Writes finals in Toronto before a jury of three judges..

Finalists in Toronto will attend an afternoon rehearsal on April 17, 2009 and a morning taping on April 18, 2009. The CBC will offer travel, accommodation when necessary, and some meals. If a finalist becomes unavailable for the finals, a replacement finalist from the regional games may be selected to proceed to the finals in Toronto.

6. General Rules

6.1 Each participant in Canada Writes shall agree to have his/her name, submissions, photograph, and voice used for promotional purposes related to this game, free of charge.

6.2 Each participant in Canada Writes shall attest to his/her eligibility as stipulated in paragraph 3 of these rules and shall release CBC, its directors, officers and employees, from all liability for any damage or loss arising from participation in this game or from the awarding, acceptance or use of any of the prize(s).

6.3 Each prize shall be accepted as is and may not be exchanged for an amount of money, nor sold nor transferred. No substitutions will be allowed.

6.4 If a prize cannot be awarded as described in these rules, CBC reserves the right to substitute a prize or prize component with another of comparable value.

6.5 Refusal to accept a prize releases CBC, its directors, officers and employees, of any responsibility and obligation toward the regional finalists.

6.6 CBC, its directors, officers and employees, shall assume no liability resulting from losses, delays, mistaken addresses on mail or e-mail received, typographical errors, technical, computer or telephone malfunctions, loss or theft of computer or telephone data, damage to software or computer equipment, fraudulent calls or any other mistake.

6.7 CBC, its directors, officers and employees, shall assume no liability whatsoever for any situation in which their inability to act results from an event or situation unforeseeable or beyond their control, including a strike, lockout or any other labour dispute at their location or the locations of the organizations and businesses whose services are used to hold this game.

6.8 All personal information, such as name, address, telephone number and e-mail address is collected solely for the purposes of administering this game and shall not be used for any other purpose without consent. By providing this information, the participant consents to it being used for the stated purposes.

6.9 By entering the contest or online challenge, the participant agrees to abide by the contest rules, which shall be applied by the CBC. All its decisions are final.

6.10 Should a participant make any false statement, he/she shall be automatically disqualified from the game or online challenge.

7. The Rules Of The Game Show

Four (4) regional semi-finalists will go to Halifax and four (4) to Vancouver, depending on their region of residence (the Eastern semi-finals include residents of Ontario and points east; the Western/Northern semi-finals include residents from Manitoba and points west and north) to play the Canada Writes semi-finals. Canada Writes is an intense, challenging and entertaining writing game that takes place in the presence of three (3) judges, a live audience, and host Brent Bambury.

Four (4) finalists—2 from each of the regional semi-finals—will go on to play the game’s finals in Toronto.

7.1 1st round: 4 contestants face-off

Contestants present the results of their first timed writing challenge (written in one hour and completed before the game), reading in front of the judges and a live audience. The judges and the host will comment on these submissions, before the judges allot a score to each contestant and hand the written score to the host. The judges hand out a new writing challenge to be written in a lightning round during the live (or live-to-tape) show.

7.2 2nd round: from 4 candidates down to 3

The four (4) contestants face off with their new text. The judges will vote one (1) contestant off, handing a second written score to the host. If there is consensus or at least two votes against one of the contestants, that contestant will be eliminated from the game. If there is no clear loser, the judges will be given the chance to come to a rapid consensus.

7.3 3rd round: 3 candidates face-off

The three (3) contestants read the results of another one-hour challenge written prior to the start of the show. The judges will discuss the new work, and assign a score.

7.4 4th round: (semi-finals) from 3 candidates down to 2; (finals) from 2 down to 1

In the fourth and last round, there will be one last, very short challenge to be completed on air, in real time. Scores from the 3rd and 4th challenges are tallied to produce two finalists. In the semi-final games, these two are the winners and will proceed on to the finals in Toronto. In the Toronto finals, only one contestant will be declared a winner.

8. The Rules Of The Online Challenge

In a parallel online competition, the public can try their own hand at five of the same writing challenges as on the radio games. The challenges will appear, one each week, on, in the weeks following the two on-air semi-finals. Online visitors can also rate their favourite entries each week until April 17, 2009. Their ratings will lead to the awarding of a People’s Choice winner (based on the number of times each entry has been rated and the average rating). The winner will be announced online during the final Go! program on CBC Radio One. The People’s Choice winner will also receive a prize.

In the event of a tie, the CBC reserves the right to select the winner from among the tied entries.

8.1 The First Game

Participants will complete 3 challenges as described on (“Take the Challenge”). They will have one hour to complete each one (or less, depending on the challenge) and a maximum of 200 words. The first challenge will appear online as of 2:30pm ET on March 14, 2009, coinciding with the Canada Writes semi-finals in Halifax, and will be available only after the radio game show has aired from East to West. The second and third challenges will appear each week thereafter. The final challenge of the first round will be open for competition until 9am ET on April 3, 2009.

8.2 The Second Game

Participants will complete the 2 challenges as described on (“Take the Challenge”). They will have one hour to complete each one (or less, depending on the challenge) and a maximum of 200 words. The first challenge will appear online as of 2:30pm ET on April 4, 2009, coinciding with the Canada Writes semi-finals in Vancouver, and will be available only after the radio game show has aired from East to West. The second challenge will appear one week later. The second round will be open until 9am ET on April 17, 2009.

8.3 Rating online

Visitors to may rate (see “Read and Rate”) all submissions to the online challenge. Reading and rating will continue until 9am ET on April 17, 2009. Visitors give entries a rating of one to five stars, with five as the top score. The CBC reserves the right to discard any ratings which it deems to be fraudulent.

How It Works

  1. Write In!

    Out of hundreds and hundreds of entries, just twenty Canadians made it to the Short List and won themselves an audition with Canada Writes. Then eight semi-finalists were picked to play in the Eastern semi-finals and Western/Northern semi-finals.

    Read their winning songs, blogs, ads, rants and movie pitches!

  2. Tune In… or Join Us!

    On March 14th and April 4th, tune in to GO! on CBC Radio One at 10 am (10:30 am NT) for the Eastern and Western/Northern semi-final games in Halifax and Vancouver. The finals will be held in Toronto on April 18th. Or join us at any of the three shows to root for the contestants in person. Go to for tickets.

  3. Play Online!

    The Canada Writes 09 Online Challenge is now over. Thanks for playing!


(Toronto, April 25, 2009)

Canada Writes Finalists

It was a very tight race in the end. Our four finalists fought it out by blog, song, ad and a three-line story. First, they each drew a blog topic, from “the best hundred dollars I ever spent” to “one fact I would like to ‘un-know’”. Challenge number 2 was to re-write a song by Queen, with Valerie Stanois from the musical We Will Rock You bringing power vocals to their surprising new words. Then judges Geri Hall, Terry O’Reilly and Darrell Dennis sent Kaveh Mohebbi through the infamous Trap Door. Challenge number 3 was the radio ad. Clever ads for Cornhobbler’s Crematorium and Juice Bar (obviously not a real business) and Christmas greetings from the makers of Flank Chainsaws won Katie Sanders and Laurie Schwartz a last chance at writing glory, but it was Margaret Beach’s turn to go through the Trap Door. Finally, Laurie and Katie had to come up with the first two lines of a three-line story… on yellow writing pads on their laps…and in 90 seconds….

After weeks of effort and tension and achievement -- from the writing contest in January, through the auditions, the short list, the semi-finals and the finals – it was all over in a couple of minutes. Katie pulled ahead by a crucial point -- and became the winner of Canada Writes 09! Listen to the show! Read the blogs!

Canada Writes Judges

For more photos, go to

Winner of the Online Challenge! Ontario's Heather Smith is the winner of this year's People's Choice Award. Her winning entry was a re-write of the ABBA song 'Waterloo.' Take a look!

Canada Writes Blog

David Tracey (Vancouver, BC)
David TraceyWestern semi-finalist 09

If I had a nickel for every time someone said to me, “Dave, you write such wildly creative things, where DO you get your ideas?” I’d have…let’s see…hang on… Okay, nothing.

Read full blog post

Read all the Canada Writes blogs.