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Writers’ Trust launches $60,000 prize for public-policy writing

The Writers’ Trust of Canada has launched a new $60,000 prize for public-policy writing as part of tech entrepreneur Jim Balsillie’s $3 million commitment to the non-profit. The prize and the endowment were announced by the Writers’ Trust today. The Balsillie Prize for Public Policy is now open for submissions, with finalists to be chosen by a jury of writers and experts.

According to an announcement made by the Writers’ Trust, The Balsillie Prize will be awarded to “a nonfiction book that advances and influences policy debates on social, political, economic, and/or cultural topics relevant to Canadians.” While Balsillie was not available to comment, he said in a statement, “My hope is that we can spur the commissioning of books that engage the general public and have potential to influence the work of the country’s top policymakers.”

Balsillie served as the chairman and co-CEO of BlackBerry parent company Research In Motion until 2007, and stepped down from the board of directors in 2012. In 2007, he donated $50 million to help found the Balsillie School of International Affairs in Waterloo, Ontario. In 2009, he made a bid to buy the NHL hockey team the Phoenix Coyotes on the condition that the team would move to southern Ontario (the deal was not approved in court).

Balsillie’s donation will also endow the newly renamed Atwood Gibson Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize, which has been topped up by $10,000 over last year’s fiction prize for a total $60,000 purse. Balsillie has committed to endowing the prize through 2030.

Finalists for the Balsillie Prize will be announced October 13 and the winner will be announced on November 24.