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

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.

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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

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