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Books by two former cabinet ministers who marked important firsts in Canadian politics – as well as a former governor of the Bank of Canada – are among those shortlisted for the prestigious Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing. Two books about China round out the shortlist.

Indian in the Cabinet: Speaking Truth to Power by Jody Wilson-Raybould tells the story from the former federal MP’s own perspective of her political rise, her time in cabinet and the SNC-Lavalin affair. A member of the We Wai Kai Nation, Wilson-Raybould was Canada’s first Indigenous justice minister and attorney-general. In 2019, she was expelled from the Liberal caucus in the highly publicized SNC controversy. She won the same Vancouver seat in the election that year and continued to sit as an independent MP. The prize jury calls her memoir “a searing account of what happens when a political outsider attempts to find their way in the highly partisan Canadian parliamentary system.”

Flora MacDonald was Canada’s first female foreign affairs minister. Flora! A Woman in a Man’s World was co-written by former Globe and Mail managing editor Geoffrey Stevens, who conducted interviews with MacDonald before her death in 2015. “Flora opened doors, set examples and broke through glass ceilings at every turn in her career,” Stevens told The Globe in an interview. He called her warm, enthusiastic, ethical – and a workaholic. The jury citation says she navigated the highs and lows of her political career with “trademark verve and charm.” And that the episodes recounted in the book “contain an equal helping of caution and wisdom for today’s politicians.”

The Next Age of Uncertainty: How the World Can Adapt to a Riskier Future by former Bank of Canada governor Stephen Poloz charts the economic forces he says will shape the next decades, including technological advances, an aging work force, mounting debt and rising income inequality. “Stephen Poloz has crafted a timely and eminently readable examination and explanation of the major issues that will define monetary policy and its impact on Canadians’ wallets for years to come,” the jury said.

Also among the finalists is a book about Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, who were held in Chinese prisons for nearly three years, until their release last September. The Two Michaels: Innocent Canadian Captives and High Stakes Espionage in the US-China Cyber War by Ottawa-based journalist Mike Blanchfield and academic Fen Osler Hampson is “a quick but intense account” of their ordeals, according to the jury citation. “Blanchfield and Hampson point to the difficult foreign policy choices Canada faces going forward.”

Vancouver-based journalist Joanna Chiu is also on the shortlist for her book China Unbound: A New World Disorder. Informed by Chiu’s years as a Beijing correspondent, the book lays out the repercussions of China’s economic rise and increasing authoritarianism – and its reception from the West. “China Unbound is a sweeping portrait of a rising superpower that is essential reading for any follower of Canadian politics,” the jury said.

The $25,000 prize, named for the late Windsor MP Shaughnessy Cohen, who died in 1998, recognizes literary non-fiction that “captures a political subject of relevance to Canadian readers and has the potential to shape or influence thinking on Canadian political life.” Compelling new insights, deep research and significant literary merit are all considered in selecting the short list and winner.

This year’s jury was made up of journalist Charelle Evelyn, past prize finalist Jacques Poitras and former federal Conservative Party deputy leader Lisa Raitt. The winner will be announced on May 17 at the annual Politics and the Pen gala in Ottawa.

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