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Covers of the Shaughnessy Cohen Prize nominated books hang above the crowd at the Politics & the Pen Gala

At a black-tie dinner at Ottawa’s Chateau Laurier last week, Maclean’s political editor Paul Wells was named the popular winner (with many friends and colleagues among the 500 guests) of the $25,000 Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing for his book The Longer I’m Prime Minister: Stephen Harper and Canada, 2006 –. You can read his acceptance speech on, here.

The award is presented at the Politics & the Pen Gala, which raises in excess of $300,000 annually for the Writers’ Trust of Canada.

This year’s event was hosted (to a standing ovation after their opening skit) by Hon. Lisa Raitt, Minister of Transport, and Ms. Megan Leslie, Member of Parliament for Halifax and member of the Official Opposition. Next to the announcement of the Shaughnessy Cohen Prize winner, the co-hosts’ duet of Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive,” with specially written lyrics about being a woman on Parliament Hill, was the highlight of the evening.

Paul Wells’ fellow nominees for the Shaughnessy Cohen Prize 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, and Graeme Smith for The Dogs Are Eating Them Now: Our War in Afghanistan, which won the 2013 Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Nonfiction.

Media coverage for the five Shaughnessy Cohen Prize nominees included an interview series in the Globe & Mail (here) and an interview with juror Doug Saunders on CBC Radio One’s Ottawa drive-home show, All in a Day, as the Politics & the Pen gala was getting underway.

CTV Ottawa came to the cocktail reception (video clip here), and Paul Wells was dragged out of bed dark and early the morning after his win to appear on CTV Ottawa’s breakfast show, CTV Morning Live (video clip here).

If you’d like to see some photos from the night, you’re in luck, because there are LOTS.

Here’s a selection:


Ballroom at the Fairmont Chateau Laurier. Photo: Steve Gerecke

On April 25, the Politics and the Pen gala, held at Ottawa’s Fairmont Chateau Laurier and attended by 500 guests from the political and literary arenas, raised $300,000 to support Writers’ Trust of Canada programmes.

The $25,000 Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing was presented to Richard Gwyn for Nation Maker, the second volume in his biography of John A. Macdonald.

The Cable Public Affairs Channel was there to capture some of the atmosphere at the cocktail reception before the main dinner: “A who’s who of Canada’s political and literary communities.” Watch the video.

It’s the one night of the year where we get to really celebrate writing, and political writing in particular…It’s always a great night and celebration.” — Bob Rae, Interim Leader, Liberal Party of Canada

What I like about this prize is it’s the Shaughnessy Cohen Prize. Shaughnessy Cohen was a really lovely person…and she was a person of quality…and Shaughnessy Cohen’s quality affects this whole outfit.” — Richard Gwyn, winner, Shaughnessy Cohen Prize

Well it’s fun, number one … It gives people in the political world a chance to talk to people who have the time and the intelligence, the intellect and the ability to use the English or French language to communicate important ideas. And frankly I think all politicians would do a lot better if they read more and talked less.” — Elizabeth May, Leader, Green Party of Canada

On the award:

The Globe and Mail talked to Richard Gwyn and Max and Monique Nemni in advance of the announcement about what makes a great PM.

The Huffington Post ran excerpts from the five nominated books.

Open Book: Toronto did a Q&A with each of the nominees.

Samara Canada ran Q&As alongside a contest and online poll for their readers’ favourite (which Gwyn also won).

On Politics and the Pen:

The Ottawa Citizen, Hill Times, Ottawa MagazineMaclean’s and iPolitics were all there, cameras in hand.

Oh, and the co-hosts, Ambassadors both, had a boxing match and engaged a little good-natured ribbing of Canada/USA stereotypes at the top of the event. The Ottawa Citizen captured the “fight” on video.

Co-hosts David Jacobson, Ambassador of the USA to Canada, and Gary Doer, Ambassador of Canada to the USA, arm wrestle at the Politics and the Pen gala. Photo: Jake Wright