2019 Winner

2019 Winner

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.

2019 Winner


Empty Planet The Shock of Global Population Decline

Breakdown: The Pipeline Debate and the Threat to Canada’s Future

Dennis McConaghy (Dundurn Press)

Breakdown addresses arguably one of the most contentious and consequential set of policy issues facing Canada today – the nexus of resource development, climate change, Indigenous rights and Alberta alienation.  It presents the history of four pipeline projects and overlays the political decisions that have resulted in many projects not being supported or being delayed significantly.  It is a necessary contribution to the discussion of the perspectives of Albertans and of resource developers generally.  The book is well researched, balanced and outlines several pragmatic strategies to help Canada find a way through these issues.

Dennis McConaghy is a Canadian energy executive who has nearly forty years of industry experience in infrastructure development and is the author of Dysfunction: Canada after Keystone XL.

Purchase Dennis McConaghy’s book: Breakdown: The Pipeline Debate and the Threat to Canada’s Future


Living With China

Empty Planet: The Shock of Global Population Decline

Darrell Bricker and John Ibbitson (Signal/McClelland & Stewart)

This book is a timely corrective to the general inattention to declining global population. Many still think of population growth as the problem in a world laden with environmental degradation, climate change, etc.; however, accelerating urbanization and the education of women point to declining fertility. This thesis has important policy implications, which Bricker and Ibbitson outline, especially with future immigration policies, as well as long-term economic forecasting. Original, challenging, engagingly written, Empty Planet also touches on attendant issues of population decline, including impacts on religion, Indigenous populations, and agriculture.

Darrell Bricker is an author, public speaker, political commentator and CEO of Ipsos Public Affairs, the world’s leading social and opinion research firm.

John Ibbitson is a columnist for the Globe &Mail, having served as Bureau Chief in both Ottawa and Washington DC.  Author of several books, his 2005 book, The Polite Revolution, was shortlisted for the Donner Prize.

Purchase Darrell Bricker and John Ibbitson’s book: Empty Planet: The Shock of Global Population Decline

Living With China

Living With China: A Middle Power Finds Its Way

Wendy Dobson (Rotman-UTP Publishing/University of Toronto Press)

Given China’s emerging role in the world, and its current fraught relationship with Canada, Living With China is an au courant and informative look at a critical issue.  It is difficult to exaggerate the importance of establishing a workable and profitable relationship with China.  In this book, Dobson, a Senior Fellow at the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada, provides a historic perspective, a detailed description of China’s economic and political strategy, as well as strong policy recommendations for a path forward.

Wendy Dobson is a Professor Emerita at Rotman School/UofT, teaching international business and Canadian public policy. She has published in English and Mandarin on the Chinese economy, Chinese financial system; and Chinese innovation.

Purchase Wendy Dobson’s book: Living With China: A Middle Power Finds Its Way

The Wealth of First Nations

The Wealth of First Nations

Tom Flanagan (Fraser Institute)

Clearly directed to the key issue of how to improve the economic and social well-being of First Nations, this book is relevant to a priority, and ongoing, policy issue.  Flanagan’s analysis of ways that transfers could be structured is quite original, and a potentially ground-breaking contribution from both a statistical and policy perspective. This concise book is a valuable addition to the debate, and it should promote discussion and dialogue on how to move forward to balance economic development and government investment.

Tom Flanagan is a Professor Emeritus of Political Science and Distinguished Fellow, School of Public Policy, University of Calgary

Read Tom Flanagan’s book: The Wealth of First Nations

The Tangled Garden

The Tangled Garden: A Canadian Cultural Manifesto for the Digital Age

Richard Stursberg with Stephen Armstrong (James Lorimer & Company Ltd.)

The issue of ensuring Canadian culture survives the technological change in the production and distribution of digital content is front and centre in policy debate in Parliament.  Here industry veteran Stursberg clearly outlines the threat from FAANG (Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix, Google), providing both historical context and explicit recommendations, including a clarified definition of Canadian content, as well as possible approaches to subsidizing that content.  Stursberg paints a very dim portrait of the status quo and conveys a sense of urgent need for policy action to level the playing field.

Richard Stursberg a career broadcaster, has served as executive director of Telefilm and head of English Language Services at the CBC.  He is currently President of PEN Canada.

Purchase Richard Stursberg with Stephen Armstrong’s book: The Tangled Garden: A Canadian Cultural Manifesto for the Digital Age


David A. Dodge


David A. Dodge, O.C., F.R.S.C., is the Chair of the Donner Prize jury. A former Governor of the Bank of Canada from 2001 to 2008 and Chancellor of Queen’s University from 2008 to 2015, David Dodge is currently Senior Advisor at Bennett Jones LLP, chair of the National Council of the C.D. Howe Institute, and member of the boards of CIFAR and CCA. During his government career, Dr. Dodge has been the G7 Deputy Minister of Finance and Deputy Minister of Health. During his academic career, he taught economics at Queen’s University; at the School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University; at the Faculty of Commerce at the University of British Columbia; and at Simon Fraser University.

Dr. Elizabeth Cannon

Dr. Elizabeth Cannon is president emerita and professor, geomatics engineering at the University of Calgary, having served as president and vice chancellor from July 2010 until December 2018. Prior to her term as president, Dr. Cannon served as dean of the Schulich School of Engineering at the University of Calgary. An expert in Geomatics Engineering and a Professional Engineer, Dr. Cannon’s research has been on the forefront of Global Positioning Systems (GPS) since 1984.  She is a past chair of Universities Canada, and was a member of the federal Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development’s Science, Technology and Innovation Council (STIC). Currently, she is a member of the Board of Trustees the Aga Khan University, a Fellow of the Creative Destruction Lab – Rockies, and a Director of the Gairdner Foundation.  In June 2019 she was named an Officer of the Order of Canada.

Jean-Marie Dufour

Jean-Marie Dufour, O.C., O.Q., is the William Dow Professor of Political Economy at McGill University, and Fellow of the Econometric Society, the American Statistical Association, the International Association for Applied Econometrics, the Canadian Economics Association (CEA), and the Royal Society of Canada. He is also the Director of the Canadian Econometric Study Group, and Research Fellow at CIRANO and CIREQ. Dr. Dufour has served as President of the CEA and the Société canadienne de science économique (SCSE). During his academic career, he has also held a Bank of Canada Research Fellowship, a Canada Research Chair (Econometrics, Université de Montréal), the Pierre-de-Fermat Chair of Excellence (Toulouse School of Economics), the Banco Santander Chair of Excellence (Universitad Carlos III de Madrid), and has received numerous prizes, including the Killam and Léon-Gérin Prizes for Social Sciences, the John Rae Prize (CEA), the Marcel-Dagenais Prize (SCSE), a Guggenheim Fellowship, and the Konrad Adenauer Research Award (Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, Germany).

Brenda Eaton

Brenda Eaton is a director serving on corporate, not-for-profit, private and crown corporation boards. Currently Transelec Chair, she is also a member of the Boards of FortisBC, Westland Insurance, Technical Safety BC and the Core Area sewage treatment project board. Prior to becoming a corporate director, Ms. Eaton was Deputy Minister to the Premier of British Columbia, as well as Deputy Minister of Finance and Treasury Board; Energy and Mines; and Social Services. For several years she was Chief Financial Officer at a Health Authority. Ms. Eaton is also active in the not-for-profit sector including Alzheimer’s Society of B.C., Vancouver Foundation, Triathlon Canada and Max Bell Foundation. Ms. Eaton has a Master’s Degree in Economics. She has received several recognition awards including the Queen’s Jubilee Award for community contribution, University of Victoria’s Distinguished Alumni and WXN’s 100 Most Powerful Women in Canada.

Peter Nicholson

Peter Nicholson, O.C., has served in numerous posts in government, business, science and higher education. He was born in Halifax and studied physics at Dalhousie University, where he received bachelor’s and master’s degrees. He went on to get a Ph.D. in operations research at Stanford University and began his academic career by teaching computer science at the University of Minnesota. Dr. Nicholson was a member of the Nova Scotia Legislature and has served as Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy in the Office of the Prime Minister. He has also held senior executive positions with Scotiabank and BCE, was the Special Advisor to the Secretary-General of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development and was the inaugural Chief Executive Officer of the Council of Canadian Academies. He currently splits his time between Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia, and Austin, Texas.