Here’s a look back at past winners and the books that made that year’s shortlist. You’ll also find our Jury from each award season.

2012 Winner


Chronic Condition: Why Canada’s Health-Care System Needs to be Dragged Into The 21st Century

Jeffrey Simpson

(Allen Lane Canada)

The Canadian health care system, which costs about $200 billion a year in public and private money, cannot continue as it is—increasingly ill-adapted to an aging population, with public costs growing faster than government revenues. Chronic Condition makes a vital contribution to the public’s understanding of the cost of health care and delivery issues, examining the tenets of the Medicare system that Canadians cling to so passionately. Breaking the silence about the changes and choices that Canadians face, Simpson has written a book that deserves to be read and discussed.

Runners – up


Let the Eastern Bastards Freeze in the Dark: The West Versus the Rest Since Confederation

Mary Janigan

(Knopf Canada)

The oil sands. Global warming. The National Energy Program. Though these seem like contemporary Canadian subjects, Let the Eastern Bastards Freeze in the Dark reveals them to be a legacy of longstanding regional rivalries. Placing the conflicts between the interests and orientation of the three prairie provinces and the rest of the country into a broader historical political context, Janigan expands not only our understanding of the issues, but also helps to enhance Canadians’ understanding of one another. A revelatory read, it presents a unique historical perspective on the challenging public policy issues that the country is now facing, and will continue to face in the future.


Santé: l’heure des choix

Claude Castonguay

( Les Éditions du Boréal)

Québec’s health care system is experiencing serious problems. No longer sustainable, it consumes nearly half the government’s budget. Calling for a paradigm shift, Santé: l’heure des choix identifies a number of the barriers that Castonguay believes prevent the creation of a truly patient-focused system, and presents a plan for comprehensive reform. Castonguay, the “father” of Québec health care, puts his decades’ long experience thinking about health care to good use in this book, with a passionate focus on solutions to make the public health care system in Québec sustainable for the long run.


Hunger in the Balance: The New Politics of International Food Aid

Jennifer Clapp

(Cornell University Press)

Food aid has become a contentious issue in recent decades, with sharp disagreements over genetically modified crops, agricultural subsidies, and ways of guaranteeing food security in the face of successive global food crises. Hunger in the Balance provides an insightful and comprehensive account of the contemporary politics of food aid, explaining the origins and outcomes of recent clashes between donor nations—and between donors and recipients. Clapp provides us with a serious analysis of important and timely global issues in which Canada and Canadians have been involved as major players for many decades.

2012 Donner Jury

A. Anne McLellan


The Honourable Anne McLellan joined Bennett Jones LLP after a distinguished career in federal politics, where she served four terms as the Liberal Member of Parliament for Edmonton Centre from 1993-2006. During her political career McLellan was Deputy Prime Minister of Canada, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, Minister of Health, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada and Minister of Natural Resources and Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians. As Deputy Prime Minister, she chaired two Cabinet committees: the Operations Committee and the Security, Public Health and Emergencies Committee. She was appointed Distinguished Scholar in Residence at the University of Alberta’s Institute for United States Policy Studies in July 2006 and currently is acting director of the Institute.

Marcel Boyer

Marcel Boyer is Emeritus Professor of Economics at the Université de Montréal; Research Associate, Department of Economics, École Polytechnique de Paris; Fellow of the C.D. Howe Institute, CIRANO and CIREQ; and Vice-president of the Society for Economic Research on Copyright Issues. He taught economics at York University, UQÀM and at Université de Montréal, and held the Bell Canada Chair in Industrial Economics in the Department of Economics of the University of Montreal. He was Vice-President and Chief Economist of the Montreal Economic Institute, President of the Canadian Economics Association, and CEO of CIRANO. He has acted as expert economist on behalf of several national and international corporations and government organisations, and has testified as expert witness before various organizations and tribunals.

Wendy Dobson

Dr. Wendy Dobson is Co-director of the Institute for International Business in the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management. She is a former Associate Deputy Minister of Finance in the Canadian government and a former President of the C.D. Howe Institute. She is also Vice-Chair of the Canadian Public Accountability Board, a director of the Canadian Ditchley Foundation, Senior Fellow at the Asia Pacific Foundation and member of the Advisory Committee of the Peterson Institute of International Economics. She participates actively in a number of international networks, including the Pacific Trade and Development Network (PAFTAD).

Kevin G. Lynch

The Honourable Kevin G. Lynch is Vice-Chair, BMO Financial Group. Prior to joining BMO, Mr. Lynch built a distinguished career in the Government of Canada, serving as Clerk of the Privy Council, Secretary to the Cabinet, and Head of the Public Service of Canada. Mr. Lynch began his public service career at the Bank of Canada in 1976 and has held a number of senior positions in the Government of Canada, including the post of Deputy Minister of Industry, and Deputy Minister of Finance. From 2004 to 2006, he served as Executive Director (for the Canadian, Irish and Caribbean constituency) at the International Monetary Fund in Washington, D.C. Mr. Lynch is on the Boards of Waterloo University, Perimeter Institute, Gairdner Foundation, Shannon School of Business, the U.K. Ditchley Foundation, and is also Chair of the Canada Ditchley Foundation.

Denis Stairs

Dr. Stairs is a Professor Emeritus of Political Science at Dalhousie University, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and a past-President of the Canadian Political Science Association. The founding Director of the Centre for Foreign Policy Studies, he was Dalhousie’s Vice President (Academic and Research) from 1988 to 1993. A former Chair of the Board of Visitors of the Canadian Forces College and for many years a member of the Board of Directors of the Institute for Research on Public Policy, he is currently Senior Research Fellow and Chair of the Advisory Council of the Canadian Defence and Foreign Affairs Institute. He was appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2006.