The lives of Paul Martin Sr. and Stephen Harper are closely linked, even if their time in office was separated by more than two decades.
Now, a pair of biographies about Martin – a Liberal MP, cabinet member, senator, and three-time leadership hopeful – and Harper – whose election to Prime Minister in 2006 booted Martin Sr.'s son out of office – have landed on the shortlist for the Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing, one of the country's pre-eminent non-fiction awards.
Globe and Mail columnist John Ibbitson is nominated for Stephen Harper, an in-depth examination of the former Conservative leader, while Greg Donaghy, who heads the historical section of the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade and serves as an adjunct professor in the Department of History at St. Jerome's University in Waterloo, is nominated for Grit: The Life and Politics of Paul Martin Sr.
The other finalists include activist and environmentalist Sheila Watt-Cloutier for The Right to be Cold: One Woman's Story of Protecting Her Culture, the Arctic and the Whole Planet; Norman Hillmer, a professor of history and international affairs at Carleton University, for O.D. Skelton: A Portrait of Canadian Ambition, a biography of the longtime public servant and former head of the Department of External Affairs; and journalist Andrew Nikiforuk, a finalist for the prize in 2011, for Slick Water: Fracking and One Insider's Stand Against the World's Most Powerful Industry.
The winner, who will be announced on April 20 at the Politics and the Pen gala in Ottawa, receives $25,000.
The finalists were chosen by a jury composed of author and historian Tim Cook, McGill political science professor Antonia Maioni and Globe and Mail reporter Robyn Doolittle.
Last year's winner was Joseph Heath for Enlightenment 2.0: Restoring Sanity to Our Politics, Our Economy and Our Lives.
The award, now in its 16th year, was founded in honour of the late Windsor MP and celebrates work that "captures a political subject of relevance to Canadian readers and has the potential to shape or influence thinking of Canadian political life."