Graham Steele is nominated for the Writers' Trust Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing for his book What I Learned About Politics: Inside the Rise - and Collapse - of Nova Scotia's NDP Government. I didn't get into politics to be part of the best opposition Nova Scotia ever had. After eight years of provincial NDP leader Darrell Dexter's slow, patient build, I'd had enough of waiting. I told my wife that if we didn't win the 2009 election, I wouldn't run again. We did win, and we won decisively.
It was Aboriginals -- through the Idle No More movement, through the frustration of youth, through a wave of new voices across the country, through their AFN leadership -- who raised their voices, went into the street, took personal action, seized every opportunity to speak up. Their message? Our system is being changed in a profound way. Democratic permission has not been given for such changes. Parliament has been denied its fundamental responsibility of free speech; that is, of normal, full debate. And this to an unprecedented degree.
Defending federalism, in Trudeau's view, meant defending the principle of reason in politics. "Reason before passion" became his personal motto. And yet, over the course of his first term as prime minister, this commitment became increasingly difficult to maintain.
The pollsters who had been tracking the vote for the pro-sovereignty side as referendum day approached were as categorical as they could be. The lead that the Yes camp had built since mid-campaign had held over the final weekend before the Monday vote. As long as the well-oiled sovereignist machine got the vote out, the Yes camp would have a rendezvous with history that very night.
I want you to emerge from the book feeling a bit uneasy, perhaps a little tainted, unable to shake off the lingering images of war. You need to read about the days when I got the charred flesh of suicide bombers stuck in the treads of my shoes. You need to hear about the night when Canadian soldiers used human bodies as bait for insurgents.
Jan Stromme via Getty Images
Self-help experts insist that we all need to do inner work in order to improve our wellbeing. But new insights in psychology, economics and brain science suggest that our cities have the power to make or break our happiness. In Happy City I use these insights to explain how urban systems shape our behaviour and emotions in ways most of us never recognize.
Peter F. Trent
One hundred years after the event there is still no agreement on how or why the war started. Explanations range from national rivalries to arms races, focus on policies such as alliances and arms races, or seek to assign responsibility to particular powers or individuals.
Just over ten years ago, two hundred municipalities all over Quebec were merged against their will. Some were amalgamated into megacities. The governing Parti Québécois had no mandate to do this; moreover, pleading the "urgency" to act, they refused to consult citizens.
Policy planners and health-policy experts can build their models and do their studies, but patients want high-quality service now, they want it free and they want it effective. They pay their taxes for a health-care system that is among the most expensive in the world. They are not getting enough value for money. Why not?
Marcello Di Cintio
I visited 14 different cities, looking at some of the best and the worst in urban transportation. Moscow offered both: surface roads gridlocked by a nightmare of free-for-all congestion, and an awe-inspiring and efficient metro system, a legacy of the Soviet era, that kept working like clockwork beneath the streets.
Ofelia asked if I would like to see the Wall. We got into my car and she guided me along the paths to the border. It was quiet. Ofelia was quiet too and her presence lent the scene a kind of sacred stillness. She told me we were lucky -- the silence was too often punctured by helicopters and Border Patrol ATVs.
My book is neither a judgment of the Canadian Forces nor even a judgment about the validity of the war. It is a judgment concerning the language, stories and many self-deceptions that Canadians have either supported or not objected to, ones that have been used to enable our new, apparently jingoistic self.
In advance of the awarding of the annual $25,000 Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing this Wednesday, HuffPost Canada will be running excerpts from the five finalists. Ron Graham's book documents the constitutional conference of November 1, 1981, as "the culmination of more than five decades of political wrangling, one last attempt to renew the constitution with the consent of the provinces."