Praised by the jury for writing a book "that Canadians, both inside and outside of government, should read with a sense of urgency," Donald J. Savoie was awarded the 2015 Donner Prize on Wednesday.
He received the $50,000 prize for his book What Is Government Good At?: A Canadian Answer.
Although Savoie was a finalist on three previous occassions – in 1999, 2001 and 2006 – this marks the first time he has won the Donner, one of Canada's richest non-fiction awards, which was established in 1998 to celebrate "excellence and innovation in Canadian public policy thinking, writing and research."
The author of more than 40 books, Savoie is also the Canada Research Chair in Public Administration and Governance at the University of Moncton and an Officer of the Order of Canada.
This year's jury was composed of former Liberal MP and cabinet minister A. Anne McLellan; McGill professor Jean-Marie Dufour; economist Peter George; Senator V. Peter Harder; and Jennifer Jeffs, a former president of the Canadian International Council.
"Savoie draws clear distinctions between what government is good at, largely those things it is uniquely placed to deliver – and a much longer list of things at which government is not good," said the jury in their citation. "Savoie makes a strong case that government must focus on its strengths or potentially risk losing those responsibilities to other actors. In the name of increased transparency and accountability, Savoie believes we have disempowered the public service and have created a risk-averse and demoralized group of public servants."
The other finalists, who each receive $7,500, were Greg Poelzer and Ken S. Coates for From Treaty Peoples to Treaty Nation: A Road Map for All Canadians; Marq de Villiers for Back to the Well: Rethinking the Future of Water; Robert Lacroix and Louis Maheu for Leading Research Universities in a Competitive World, translated by Paul Klassen; and David Mulroney for Middle Power, Middle Kingdom: What Canadians Need to Know About China in the 21st Century.