Alex Marland, an associate professor of political science and associate dean of arts at Memorial University in Newfoundland, has won this year's Donner Prize for his book Brand Command: Canadian Politics and Democracy in the Age of Message Control, it was announced on Monday in Toronto.
The winner of the prize, which recognizes the best work relating to Canadian public policy, receives $50,000.
"Marland's authoritative, original and accessible treatise on the most significant development in modern democratic politics will captivate Canadians, especially those with an interest in policy and politics," read the jury's citation. "The priority given to 'brand' in contemporary politics has led to ever tighter message control and consequently to increased centralization of power in the Prime Minister's Office. While branding and message control have always been part of political image making, their strategic significance has increased markedly with the 24-hour news cycle and social media. The incentives to exercise brand control have therefore not diminished regardless of who is occupying the Prime Minister's office. Alex Marland's path-breaking analysis of 'brand command,' although developed in the context of the Harper government, is of undiminished relevance looking forward."
This year's jury was composed of Eva Busza, a vice-president at the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada; Jean-Marie Dufour, a professor of political economy at McGill University; Jennifer Jeffs, a senior research associate at the Munk School of Global Affairs; author and academic Donald J. Savoie, who won last year's prize; and academic and former Nova Scotia MLA Peter Nicholson, who served as chair. They considered 81 books for this year's prize.
The other finalists, who each receive $7,500, were Juliet Johnson for Priests of Prosperity: How Central Bankers Transformed the Postcommunist World; Daniel J. Levitin for A Field Guide to Lies: Critical Thinking in the Information Age; Sandra Martin for A Good Death: Making the Most of Our Final Choices; and Yves Couturier, Lucie Bonin, Louise Belzile for L'intégration des services en santé: Une approche populationnelle.
"All five finalists exemplify the criteria established for the Donner Prize: relevant and important topics for Canadian public policy; based on sound and original analysis; and accessible not only to experts but to a general readership," said Nicholson in a statement. "These five books include thoroughly researched, evidence-based examinations of significant subjects such as medically assisted dying; separating truth from fiction in the digital age; integrating health services to focus on the patient; and the transfer of Western policy models to postcommunist countries. By stimulating informed discussion, each of these books contributes to an even stronger and more inclusive Canadian democracy."