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Writers’ Trust Rewards Author Calling for a Renaissance of Reason

Joseph Heath wins $25,000 Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing

March 11, 2015 – Ottawa –
The Writers’ Trust of Canada announced tonight at the Politics and the Pen gala that Joseph Heath has won the Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing for his book Enlightenment 2.0: Restoring Sanity to Our Politics, Our Economy, and Our Lives, published by HarperCollins Publishers.

The Shaughnessy Cohen Prize is sponsored by Aimia and supported by the Politics and the Pen Gala.

A jury composed of author Denise Chong, author and Ottawa Citizen columnist Terry Glavin, and The Globe and Mail Queen’s Park reporter Jane Taber selected the winner. Their citation reads:

A magisterial survey of the shambles that remains of the Enlightenment’s great promise, Joseph Heath’s Enlightenment 2.0 is a vivid chronicle of the descent of contemporary politics into a bedlam of competing irrationalities and appeals to unreason. Drawing deeply from popular culture, the social sciences, psychology, and public policy, Enlightenment 2.0 is an important work of serious philosophy that is at the same time lively, lucid, engaging, and entertaining.

About the Author

Joseph Heath is a professor of philosophy at the University of Toronto. He is the author of numerous academic and popular works, including Filthy Lucre, The Efficient Society, and (with Andrew Potter) The Rebel Sell. Heath received a Trudeau fellowship in 2012. He lives in Toronto.

About the Book

For 20 years, the political systems of the western world have increasingly become divided—not between right and left, but between crazy and non-crazy, says Joseph Heath. The rapid-fire pace of modern politics makes it difficult for the voice of reason to be heard. The only way sanity can return is by engaging in collective action against the social conditions that have crowded it out. Enlightenment 2.0 takes as its point of departure recent psychological and philosophical research, which identifies the social and environmental preconditions for the exercise of rational thought.

Four finalists for this year’s prize received $2,500 each:


Chantal Hébert with Jean Lapierre for The Morning After: The 1995 Quebec Referendum and the Day that Almost Was, published by Knopf Canada

Naomi Klein
 for This Changes Everything: Capitalism Vs. the Climate, published by Knopf Canada

John Ralston Saul
for The Comeback: How Aboriginals Are Reclaiming Power and Influence, published by Viking Canada

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


For more information on this year’s finalists and to download high-resolution images of the nominated authors and their books, visit our prize page.

About the Prize

Now in its fifteenth year, the Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing is awarded annually for a book of literary nonfiction that captures a political subject of relevance to Canadian readers and has the potential to shape or influence thinking on Canadian political life. The winning work combines compelling new insights with depth of research and is of significant literary merit. The prize particularly values books which provide the general reader with an informed, unique perspective on the practice of Canadian politics, its players, or its principles.

The prize was established in honour of Shaughnessy Cohen, the outspoken and popular Member of Parliament from Windsor, Ontario, who died on December 9, 1998.

About Politics and the Pen

Politics and the Pen is a highlight of the capital’s social calendar and an important annual fundraising event benefiting the Writers’ Trust. Held at the Fairmont Château Laurier, the event attracts 500 guests from Canada’s political and literary circles. Microsoft Canada is the platinum dinner sponsor of Politics and the Pen. To date, Politics and the Pen has raised more than $2.7 million to support the programs of the Writers’ Trust.

About the Writers’ Trust

The Writers’ Trust of Canada is a charitable organization that seeks to advance, nurture, and celebrate Canadian writers and writing through a portfolio of programs including literary awards, financial grants, scholarships, and a writers’ retreat. Writers’ Trust programming is designed to champion excellence in Canadian writing, to improve the status of writers, and to create connections between writers and readers. Canada’s writers receive more financial support from the Writers’ Trust than from any other non-governmental organization or foundation in the country. 


For more information and interview opportunities, contact:
Becky Toyne, 416-871-0502


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