Susan Delacourt, BA’82, has been named among five finalists for this year’s Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Nonfiction for her book, Shopping for Votes: How Politicians Choose Us and We Choose Them. Delacourt is a former editor of Western’s student Gazette.
The Hilary Weston Prize, the richest annual literary award for a book of nonfiction published in Canada, is presented for literary excellence in the category of nonfiction, which includes, among other forms, personal or journalistic essays, history, biography, memoirs, commentary and criticism, both social and political.
In Shopping for Votes, Delacourt takes readers into the world of Canada’s top political marketers, from the 1950s to the present, explaining how parties slice and dice their platforms for different audiences and how they manage the media. The current system divides the country into ‘niche’ markets and abandons the hard political work of knitting together broad consensus or national vision. Little wonder then, that most Canadians have checked out of the political process. Refreshingly non-partisan, Shopping for Votes offers a new narrative for understanding political culture in Canada.
Hilary Weston Prize jurors called the book “a revelation of how political marketing works.”
“With ace investigative research and insight, Susan Delacourt lays bare the history and machinations of the branding, niche market, intuition and gut feeling approach to viewing voters as consumers,” the citation read. “Her unfolding of this troubling evolution in Canadian politics is rendered in clear prose, and her judgments are based in reasoned argument. Shopping for Votes is a must for anyone concerned about informed consensus and a democratic national vision for Canada.”
Delacourt, a senior political writer with the Toronto Star, has been covering Canada’s capital for more than two decades. She has previously published books on subjects such as the Charlottetown Accord, Shaughnessy Cohen and Paul Martin. A regular commentator on CTV and CBC Television, Delacourt has been recognized for her political writing with the Charles Lynch Award from the Canadian Parliamentary Press Gallery and the Hyman Solomon Award for Excellence in Public Policy Journalism. She was a finalist for the John W. Dafoe Book Prize earlier this year.
The Hilary Weston Prize winner will be announced on Oct. 14.