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About the Prize

The Balsillie Prize for Public Policy is awarded annually for a book of nonfiction that advances and influences policy debates on a wide range of social, political, economic, or cultural topics relevant to Canadians. The prize celebrates excellence in quality of thought and style and underlines the important role books play in advancing public discourse and bringing new ideas to Canadian policymakers.

The selected books will combine new insights with impressive research, offering thought-provoking contributions to debates on issues that impact both public consciousness and Canadian policymakers. The Balsillie Prize especially values bold works that bring public policy issues to the general reading public.

Sponsorship of this prize is part of a $3 million commitment to supporting our nation's literature by Canadian businessman and philanthropist Jim Balsillie.

2023 Winner

David R. Samson

Our Tribal Future: How to Channel Our Foundational Human Instincts into a Force for Good

St. Martin’s Press

Jury Citation

In Our Tribal Future, David R. Samson does something remarkable: in sparkling prose and rich empirical detail, he provides a tour de force of how our tribal brains operate in our modern world. Things that were essential to our survival in the past now potentially imperil our future. This important contribution to our public policy toolkit explains why trust is declining across our society and why our public spaces increasingly feel hostile rather than welcoming. There is no one in public life — and no one interested in public life — who will not benefit from the deep and enduring implications of this book.

2023 Finalists

“For Canadians, By Canadians” — The Balsillie Prize for Public Policy


A jury composed of Samantha Nutt, Taki Sarantakis, and Scott Young read 43 titles submitted by 25 publishers.

2023 Jury Statement

The Balsillie Prize is now in its third year, and the three of us have had a front-row seat for each of those years to some of the finest writing about public policy issues in Canada. Positioned against an increasingly messy global landscape, the urgent need for cogent policy analysis should be self-evident to all. And from our vantage point, it appears that Canada’s publishers have started to rise to the occasion, producing an impressive range of books on a multitude of public policy issues. However, writing remains a privilege for the few and not the many, and we continue to encourage publishers and readers to seek out new voices from diverse backgrounds.

About prize sponsor Jim Balsillie

Jim Balsillie is the former chairman and co-CEO of Research In Motion (BlackBerry), a technology company he scaled from an idea to $20 billion in sales globally. His long-standing interest in and support of public policy initiatives in Canada include serving as an advisor to Canada School of Public Policy, creating and funding the Centre for International Governance Innovation, the Balsillie School of International Affairs, the Arctic Research Foundation, the Centre for Digital Rights, and the CIO Strategy Council. He was the private sector representative on the UN Secretary General’s High Panel for Sustainability. He is a member of the Board of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and the Advisory Board of the Stockholm Resilience Centre. His awards include: Mobile World Congress Lifetime Achievement Award, Canadian Business Hall of Fame, Time Magazine’s World’s 100 Most Influential People, and three times Barron’s list of “World’s Top CEOs.”