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Canadian author Naomi Klein is seen here in Toronto Thursday Sept 11, 2014.Tim Fraser/The Globe and Mail

Hailed as a "groundbreaking" book and a "magisterial response to a present crisis," Naomi Klein's This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate was awarded the Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Prize for Nonfiction at a ceremony in Toronto on Tuesday.

Ms. Klein, a journalist, filmmaker and activist whose previous books include No Logo and The Shock Doctrine, receives $60,000 for winning the richest literary prize for a work of non-fiction published in Canada.

"I have to believe this is some kind of sign of the times that this happened," Ms. Klein said on accepting the award. "I don't know what it means, but I feel like there is a deep desire for change in this country."

Afterwards, reflecting on the importance of her win, she said that "for a book with as radical a message as mine, it's pretty important, because it says even people on the other side [of the climate change debate] should read it."

A jury of authors, Priscila Uppal, Merrily Weisbord, and Charles Foran, the winner of the prize in 2011 for his biography of Mordecai Richler, selected the five finalists. CBC broadcaster Peter Mansbridge and filmmaker Deepa Mehta joined them to choose a winner. In their citation, the jury members praised Ms. Klein's "urgency and outrage," which they said was "balanced by meticulous documentation and passionate argument."

"You go for the book that makes you sit up and think," Mr. Mansbridge said. "The book that is well written. Those are the ones that should win the day, and has won the day here."

The other finalists for the prize, which was established by the former lieutenant-governor of Ontario, were Susan Delacourt for Shopping for Votes: How Politicians Choose Us and We Choose Them; Charles Montgomery for Happy City: Transforming Our Lives Through Urban Design; Paula Todd for Extreme Mean: Trolls, Bullies, and Predators Online; and Kathleen Winter for Boundless: Tracing Land and Dream in a New Northwest Passage. They each receive $5,000.

Last year's prize was won by former Globe and Mail correspondent Graeme Smith for The Dogs are Eating Them Now: Our War in Afghanistan.