Rachel Laforest

Rachel Laforest



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

Political Studies

Canadian Politics, Public Policy



Mackintosh-Corry Hall, C407

People Directory Affiliation Category

Rachel Laforest Curriculum Vitae

Research Interests

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

Rachel Laforest would be interested in supervising graduate students in the areas of ​​​​​social policy with a focus on marginalized communities - that includes a range of topics such as mental health, disability, homelessness, poverty, childcare, immigration, and education. I’m also interested in supervising students that have an interest in citizen engagement and the way that community groups and civil society organizations help bring citizen voices to the policy table. Finally, because I’m interested in social policy, my research also touches on issues of federalism and intergovernmental relations. I could supervise students interested in provincial comparisons.

Brief Biography

Rachel Laforest (Ph.D. Carleton) is a 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 to affect change. It illustrates how the ideas and content of the poverty reduction strategies policies adopted are shaped by these dynamics. She is also currently studying innovative strategies to tackle youth at risk of homelessness. This research focuses on cross-sectoral collaboration and community-based preventative interventions to foster more equitable educational opportunities and outcomes for youth at risk.

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, 2023.

Rachel 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.


For detailed information about political studies courses and instructors, please refer to the Undergraduate and Graduate pages. 

Service (2023/2024)

  • Departmental Committee
  • Graduate Committee
  • Graduate Fellowship Committee (Chair)
  • Renewal, Tenure and Promotions (RTP) 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.