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Former Harper strategist’s book on First Nations nominated for Donner Prize

Former Harper strategist’s book on First Nations nominated for Donner Prize

TORONTO — Former Stephen Harper strategist Tom Flanagan is among the nominees for this year’s $50,000 Donner Prize for his public policy book “The Wealth of First Nations.”

Published by the Fraser Institute, the book makes the case that Indigenous communities need to focus on ”making” wealth rather than “taking” government transfers to improve their standard of living.

Flanagan also argues that attempts to redress “past injustices” don’t help to achieve progress towards that goal.

The retired University of Calgary professor’s previous books have been criticized by Indigenous leaders and scholars for promoting the view that European civilization was more “advanced” than Indigenous cultures of North America at the time of colonization.

Flanagan is one of five finalists in the running for the 2019/2020 Donner Prize, recognizing the best public policy book by a Canadian. Other topics include Canada’s economic relationship with China, and the polarizing debate around pipelines and the extraction of natural resources.

Donner Canadian Foundation chair Ken Whyte said the scheduled spring awards gala has been postponed until this fall, but organizers decided to announce the nominees Wednesday to allow for as much “opportunity for discussion as possible.”

The other 2019/2020 finalists are:

- “Empty Planet: The Shock of Global Population Decline” by Darrell Bricker and John Ibbitson (Signal/McClelland & Stewart)

- “Living with China: A Middle Power Finds Its Way” by Wendy Dobson (University of Toronto Press)

- “Breakdown: The Pipeline Debate and the Threat to Canada’s Future” by Dennis McConaghy (Dundurn Press)

- “The Tangled Garden: A Canadian Cultural Manifesto for the Digital Age” by Richard Stursberg with Stephen Armstrong (James Lorimer & Co.)

The short list was culled from 74 submissions. The winner receives $50,000, and each other nominated title receives $7,500.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 15, 2020.

The Canadian Press