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Centre for International Governance Innovation founder Jim Balsillie wants to stimulate debate on public policy by sponsoring a $60,000 book award. Photo: Dave Chidley/ Canadian Press

> The Scroll

Blackberry Co-Founder Jim Balsillie Sponsors $60,000 Public Policy Book Prize

/ BY Kim Honey / February 17th, 2021


Businessman and philanthropist Jim Balsillie is sponsoring a second Writer’s Trust of Canada award, this one carrying a rich purse of $60,000 for a book that shapes public policy.

Balsillie, the former co-CEO of Research in Motion, the Waterloo, Ont.-based makers of BlackBerry, already sponsors the $60,000 Atwood Gibson Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize, which was won last year by Toronto author Gil Adamson for Ridegrunner.

The first Balsillie Prize for Public Policy will be awarded in November 2021 for a book that advances and influences “policy debates on social, political, economic, and cultural topics relevant to Canadians.”

“This prize will spotlight authors and ideas that aim to address the core concerns of our society and ideally lead to a more engaged, informed, and enlightened Canada,” Balsillie said in a press release. “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.”

Writer’s Trust executive director Charlie Foran anticipates nominated works will address controversial topics such as the environment, ageism, racism and immigration. “The Balsillie Prize will operate as a big tent for all the hot button issues that dominate the news, that Canadians argue about in coffee shops, that trigger debate in law schools, and concern our government leaders.”

Balsillie, who left BlackBerry in 2012, founded the Waterloo-based Centre for International Governance Innovation, a think tank that researches and analyzes global issues relating to the digital age. He also founded the Waterloo-based  Balsillie School of International Affairs, which provides post-graduate degrees in international public policy and global governance, the non-profit Centre for Digital Rights and co-founded the Canadian Council for Innovators.

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