2014 Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing Finalist


Graham Steele 
What I Learned About Politics: Inside the Rise—and Collapse—of Nova Scotia’s NDP Government 
Nimbus Publishing



Jury Citation

Graham Steele has written a stark and refreshingly honest account of his time as a Member of Legislative Assembly and then as finance minister in Nova Scotia’s first NDP government. His book transcends partisan politics in the Maritimes and could be set in any political chamber in the country. Earnest and naïve at first, Steele quickly learned the ropes and didn’t like what he saw: “Politics is a low, dirty business,” he wrote. But his book is never that – What I Learned about Politics is surprisingly optimistic, highly entertaining, and prescriptive as to how politicians can do better.

About the Book

On October 8, 2013, Nova Scotia’s NDP government went down to a devastating election defeat. Premier Darrell Dexter lost his own seat, and the party held the dubious distinction of being the province’s first one-term majority government in more than 100 years. Former NDP finance minister and MLA Graham Steele tries to make sense of the election result and shares what he’s learned from a 15-year career in provincial politics. He pulls no punches in assessing what’s right—and what’s often wrong—with our current political system in this candid assessment of what it is like to serve in a Canadian legislature.

About the Author

Graham Steele was a member of the Nova Scotia legislature from 2001 to 2013. He was the Minister of Finance and Minister of Acadian Affairs (2009–2012), and Minister of Economic and Rural Development and Tourism (2013) in the Darrell Dexter government. Before entering politics, Steele worked as a lawyer and was a Rhodes Scholar. He is now a Nova Scotia political analyst for CBC and lives in Halifax. 




Woodcock Fund



Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing


September 19 for books published between June 20 and September 18, 2018


Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Prize for Nonfiction
and Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize


July 18 for books published between May 16 and Sept 30, 2018


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