Last night, The Writers' Trust of Canada announced Beverley McLachlin as the winner of the Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing (sponsored by CN) for her memoir Truth Be Told: My Journey Through Life and the Law (Simon & Schuster Canada).
The Writers' Trust's annual Politics and the Pen gala, where the prize winner is traditionally announced in a black tie ceremony at Ottawa's Chateau Laurier, took place digitally this year.
McLachlin's impressive story began in the small town of Pincher Creek, Alberta, where she was born in 1943. She was a pioneer as a successful lawyer in a time when few women were practicing, and eventually rose to serve as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada -- both the first woman to hold that position and the longest-serving Chief Justice in Canadian history. She is also a successful novelist, having published a bestseller, Full Disclosure, in 2018, shortly after leaving the bench.
The Shaughnessy Cohen Prize jury, which included 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 praised both McLachlin's exceptional story and her writing, acknowledging her "storyteller's sure touch" and calling the memoir "essential reading".
As the winner, McLachlin will receive $25,000. The four remaining finalists for this year’s prize will receive $2,500 each. They are Adam Chapnick for Canada on the United Nations Security Council: A Small Power on a Large Stage (UBC Press); Harold R. Johnson for Peace and Good Order: The Case for Indigenous Justice in Canada (McClelland & Stewart); Jonathan Manthorpe for Claws of the Panda: Beijing’s Campaign of Influence and Intimidation in Canada (Cormorant Books); and Kent Roach for Canadian Justice, Indigenous Injustice: The Gerald Stanley and Colten Boushie Case (McGill-Queen’s University Press).
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The Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing 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. It was established and named in honour of the outspoken and popular Member of Parliament from Windsor, Ontario.
The shortlisted titles are available in accessible formats for different types of print disability through the Centre for Equitable Library Access (CELA).