Politics and the Pen literary gala draws heavy hitters from political, business and journalism circles

Kamal Al-Solaylee wins Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing for his book, Brown
Politics & the Pen

It was a paparazzo’s playground at the Château Laurier on Wednesday as cabinet ministers and members of parliament, business leaders, household-name journalists and notable authors came together for arguably one of the best parties in town, while also celebrating Canadian writers at the annual Politics and the Pen dinner.

The perennially popular and sold-out event, which raises funds for The Writers’ Trust of Canada, saw Treasury Board President Scott Brison pair up with interim Conservative leader Rona Ambrose to co-host the evening.

Patrick Kennedy, principal at Earnscliffe Strategy Group, chaired the organizing committee with Alayne Crawford, director of corporate affairs at Shaw Communications.

Politics & the Pen
From left, Jason Young from PayPal Canada with Bluesky Strategy Group principal Susan Smith, Navdeep Singh Bains, minister of innovation, science and economic development, and Celina Caesar-Chavannes, Liberal MP for Whitby,  at the Politics & the Pen Gala held at the Château Laurier on Wednesday, May 10, 2017. (Photo by Caroline Phillips)

 

Politics & the Pen
Politics & the Pen co-hosts Scott Brison and Rona Ambrose in the ballroom of the Château Laurier on Wednesday, May 10, 2017. (Photo by Caroline Phillips)

 

Politics & the Pen
Alayne Crawford and Patrick Kennedy co-chaired the organizing committee for this year’s Politics & the Pen dinner held at the Château Laurier on Wednesday, May 10, 2017. (Photo by Caroline Phillips)

The focus of the evening was the announcement and presentation of the Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing. It’s awarded to a book of literary nonfiction that captures a political subject relevant to Canadian readers and that has the potential to shape or influence thinking on contemporary Canadian political life.

This year’s winner was Ryerson School of Journalism professor Kamal Al-Solaylee for Brown: What Being Brown in the World Today Means (to Everyone), published by HarperCollins Canada. 

The award comes with a $25,000 cash prize.

Other finalists were Christie Blatchford, Ian McKay, Jamie Swift, James McLeod and Noah Richler.

For Simon Jacques, president of Airbus Defence & Space Canada, the evening was refreshing and fun.

“It’s a different crowd than I’m used it,” he told OBJ.social of the schmoozefest of friendly movers and shakers.

Jacques, who was a guest of Earnscliffe Strategy, connected with interesting people throughout the course of the evening. Whether that leads to better business remains to be seen. “With networking, you never know. It’s hard to measure, but Ottawa is a small community, so the more people you know the better it is,” said Jacques.

Spotted in the crowd were well-known actor and comedian Mark Critch and one of his fellow Newfoundlanders, Justice Malcome Rowe from the Supreme Court of Canada. On the organizing committee were Catherine Clark and Elizabeth Gray-Smith, both daughters of former political powerhouses. Speaking of political offspring, Mark Mulroney was also among the 500 attendees.

– caroline@obj.ca

Politics & the Pen
Elizabeth Grey-Smith, senior content strategist at Bluesky Strategy Group, with Canadian comedian and actor Mark Critch, at the Politics & the Pen Gala held at the Château Laurier on Wednesday, May 10, 2017. (Photo by Caroline Phillips)
Politics & the Pen
Catherine Clark, president of Catherine Clark Communications, and her husband, Chad Schella, general manager of government affairs at Canada Post, at the Politics & the Pen Gala held at the Château Laurier on Wednesday, May 10, 2017. (Photo by Caroline Phillips)
Politics & the Pen
From left, Defence Minister Harjit Singh Sajjan with Health Minister Jane Philpot, Treasury Board President Scott Brison, Environment Minister Catherine McKenna and Shaughnessy Cohen Prize finalist Noah Richler at the Politics & the Pen Gala held at the Château Laurier on Wednesday, May 10, 2017. (Photo by Caroline Phillips)
Politics & the Pen
From left, Greg Kane, counsel at Dentons, with his wife, Adrian Burns, a director with Shaw Communications and board chair of the National Arts Centre, with Jacques Shore, a partner at Gowling WLG and counsel to Amazon.com, and his wife, Dr. Donna Shore, at the Politics & the Pen Gala held at the Château Laurier on Wednesday, May 10, 2017. (Photo by Caroline Phillips)