The Donner Prize - The Award for the Best Book on Canadian Public Policy

Past Winners 2015


What Is Government Good At?: A Canadian Answer
Donald J. Savoie
McGill-Queen’s University Press

In his new book, Donald Savoie begins with a simple question: What is it that the public sector can do better than the private sector? Savoie acknowledges that the public sector is grappling with serious challenges, but in order to adequately address those challenges, he contends that we require a more acute understanding of what government is good at. In answering that question, Savoie’s book also speaks to the question of what government is not good at.


Middle Power, Middle Kingdom: What Canadians Need to Know about China in the 21st Century
David Mulroney
Allen Lane/Penguin Canada

Middle Power, Middle Kingdom examines the direct impact of China’s rise on Canada’s economic prosperity, health and well-being, and security. In making the case for more ‘China competence’ amongst Canadians, Mulroney argues that we should neither demonize China nor should we assume that it is like us. Drawing lessons from his long and distinguished career in Canada’s diplomatic corps, Mulroney provides strategic insight into how foreign policy works, and how policies must be changed if Canada is to prosper in the future.

From Treaty Peoples to Treaty Nation: A Road Map for All Canadians
Greg Poelzer & Ken S. Coates
UBC Press

In this timely book, Poelzer and Coates provide an overview of the history, policies, cultural assumptions and divergent opinions that underpin Canada’s complicated history as a treaty nation. Advocating for ‘equality of opportunity’ for Canada’s indigenous peoples, they also lay out innovative ideas for how Canada and Canadians – indigenous and non-indigenous – can move together toward greater social, political and economic equality. They conclude by saying that sustainable reconciliation must rest on respect for indigenous cultures, political reform, and economic opportunity.

Leading Research Universities in a Competitive World
Robert Lacroix & Louis Maheu
McGill-Queen’s University Press

Universities play a central, sometimes conflicting, role in our society, serving as hubs of research innovation, educating the leaders of tomorrow, and advancing knowledge. With this book, Lacroix and Maheu argue that research universities must find an equilibrium between state regulation and academic autonomy, which is itself located at the intersection between bold university leadership, imaginative government policies and support from private industry. The authors conclude that if Canada wants to remain competitive globally, it must foster a knowledge-based economy that effectively trains and retains PhD graduates.

Back to the Well: Rethinking the Future of Water
Marq de Villiers
Goose Lane Editions

Drought, floods, and contaminated fresh water crises around the globe continue to bring the critical issue of water to the forefront of the public consciousness. In this refreshing and clear-eyed examination of the fate and future of water, de Villiers controversially suggests that there is no global water crisis. Instead, he proposes that water problems are fundamentally local and regional in nature, and are therefore most effectively addressed through local grassroots solutions.

Watch the Acceptance Speech

Past Winners



















Donald Savoie is the Canada Research Chair in Public Administration and Governance at the Université de Moncton.

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David Mulroney is the President of St. Michael’s College at the University of Toronto and previously served as ambassador of Canada to the People’s Republic of China from 2009 to 2012.

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Greg Poelzer is the Executive Chair of the University of Saskatchewan’s International Centre for Northern Governance and Development.

Ken S. Coatesis the Director of the International Centre for Northern Governance and Development at the University of Saskatchewan.

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Robert Lacroix is the former Rector of the Université de Montréal, where he remains a Professor of Economics.

Louis Maheu is a Professor Emeritus in Sociology at the Université de Montréal.

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Marq de Villiers is the author of fifteen books, including Water: The Fate of our Most Precious Resource, winner of the Governor General’s Award for non-fiction and the Canadian Science Writers Award.

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