Rachel Laforest

Rachel Laforest



PhD (Carleton); MA (Université de Montréal); BA (Université de Montréal)

Political Studies

Comparative Politics, Canadian Politics

Arts and Science


Mackintosh-Corry Hall, Room C407

Research Interests

Canadian and Quebec politics; comparative politics; social policy; state-civil society relations; governance; citizen engagement

Brief Biography

Rachel Laforest (Ph.D. Carleton) is an Associate Professor in the Department of Political Studies at Queen’s University. Her research focuses on Canadian politics, with a particular interest in how civil society groups mobilize to influence social policy dynamics. She is currently conducting a comparative analysis of poverty reduction strategies developed across Canada. Her work examines the interplay between the institutions and in particular the frequency and timing of consultations, with the strategies of organized interests who have mobilized in order to affect change. It illustrates how the ideas and content of the poverty reduction strategies policies adopted are shaped by these dynamics.

Rachel is part of numerous SSHRC-funded research teams. This has allowed her to work on varied topics such as the restructuring of social services in the field of mental health and addictions in Ontario and in Quebec; comparing provincial strategies to provide access to French-language services in minority contexts; the impact of charitable regulations on political advocacy; and the impact of social procurement policies on social enterprises. 

She is the author of Voluntary Sector Organizations and the State, UBC Press, which won the ANSER-ARES best book award in 2014. She is also the editor of Government-Nonprofit Relations in Times of Recession, McGill-Queen's University Press, 2013 and The New Federal Policy Agenda and the Voluntary Sector: On the Cutting Edge, McGill-Queen's University Press, 2009. She is currently co-editor of The Oxford International Handbook of Public Administration for Social Policy: Promising Practices and Emerging Challenges - USA and CANADA section, forthcoming with Oxford University Press.

Rachel is also a School Board Trustee and has a special interest in education policy.

She has held visiting appointments at the Centre for Nonprofit Management, School of Business, Trinity College Dublin, and the School of Criminology, Politics and Social Policy, University of Ulster.


POLS 212 Canadian Politics (Winter 2023)

POLS 318 The Canadian Welfare State (Fall 2022)

POLS 382 Gender and Social Policy (Fall 2022)

POLS 397 Topics in Gender and Politics (Winter 2023)

POLS 414 Politics in Quebec (Winter 2023)

POLS 814 Politics in Quebec (Fall 2022)

For more details on political studies courses, please refer to the Undergraduate and Graduate pages. 

Service (2022/2023)

  • Graduate Committee
  • Graduate Fellowship Committee (Chair)

Selected Publications


Voluntary Sector Organizations and the State, UBC Press, 2011, 176 p.

Books Edited

The Oxford International Handbook of Public Administration for Social Policy: Promising Practices and Emerging Challenges - USA and CANADA section, forthcoming with Oxford University Press. With Andrea Hetling.

Government-Nonprofit Relations in Times of Recession, McGill-Queen's University Press, 2013, 216 p.

The Conservative Federal Policy Agenda and The Voluntary Sector: On the Cutting Edge, McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2009, 178 p.

Chapters in Books

"Inputs to Outputs : Redesign of the Canadian Citizenship Regime", Citizenship as a Regime: Canadian and International Perspectives. With Susan Phillips. McGill-Queen’s University Press. Edited by Mireille Paquet, Aude-Claire Fourot and Nora Nagels. 2018.

“Nonprofit Sector in an Age of Disruption”, Policy Analysis in Canada, edition no 2, for Policy Press UK. Edited by Laurent Dobuzinskis and Michael Howlett. 2018.

“Nonprofit organizations in the Digital Media Age”, Political Elites in Canada: Power and Influence in Instantaneous Times, UBC Press series – Communication, Strategy and Politics. Edited by Alex Marland and Thierry Giasson. 2018.

"Advocates Anonymous," In G. De Santis and N. Mulé, (eds.)The Shifting Terrain: Nonprofit Sector Public Policy Advocacy in Canada, McGill-Queen's University Press (MQUP), 2017 (with A. Burrowes).

“Organized Interest Strike Back!” In A. Marland and T. Giasson, eds. Canadian Election Analysis 2015: Communication, Strategy, and Democracy, UBC Press and Samara, 2015.

"Civil Society: The Study of Power. Intrigue. Passion." In C. Anderson, ed. Studying Politics: An Introduction to Political Science, 5e edition, Nelson College Indigenous, 2015.

Refereed articles

"L’offre active de services de santé mentale en français en Ontario: données et enjeux”, Minorités linguistiques et société. With L. Cardinal, M. Normand. M. Castonguay, M.H. Eddie, A. Gauthier, S. Huot, D » Prud’homme, J. Savard, S. Yaya, 2018, no 9, pp. 74-99.

"Nonprofits in a Time of Turbulence: Challenges and Opportunities," Nonprofit Policy Forum, 2017, vol. 8 (2), pp. 117-120. With Steven Rathgeb Smith.

"The role of Ideas and Interests in Voluntary Sector Organizing: Some insights from Canadian scholarship," Voluntas: International Journal of Voluntary and Nonprofit Organizations, 2014, vol. 25 (5) pp. 1214-1234.

"The Expendables: Community Organizations and Governance Dynamics in the Canadian Settlement Sector," Canadian Journal of Political Science, 2013, vol. 46 (3) pp. 597-616. With Nicholas Acheson.

"Shifting Scales of Governance and Civil Society Participation in Canada and the European Union," Canadian Public Administration, 2013, vol. 56. no 2, pp. 235-251.