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Jim Balsillie, chairman of the Council of Canadian Innovators, arrives at a Commons privacy and ethics committee hearing in Ottawa on May 10, 2018.Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press

Smartphone pioneer Jim Balsillie is backing a $60,000 prize to recognize books that advance Canada’s public-policy debate.

The Writers’ Trust of Canada announced the creation of the Balsillie Prize for Public Policy on Wednesday as part of a $3-million commitment by the former BlackBerry chief executive.

Organizers say the award, which is being billed as the country’s richest for public policy reads, will be handed out annually to a title shaping the discourse about relevant social, political, economic or cultural questions.

Balsillie, chairman of the Council of Canadian Innovators, tells The Canadian Press that he hopes the honour will help foster the fresh ideas Canada needs as the COVID-19 crisis lays bare long-standing inequalities.

He believes that books have the power to shape how Canadians think about the issues of the day, and push policy-makers in new directions.

The finalists for the inaugural Balsillie Prize for Public Policy will be announced on Oct. 13. The winner will be revealed on Nov. 24.

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