Photo of Laura Macdonald

Laura Macdonald

Professor, Department of Political Science

Degrees:BA (Queen's) MA, PhD (York)
Phone:613-520-2600 x 2771
Office:C669 Loeb


Laura Macdonald is a Professor in the Department of Political Science and the Institute of Political Economy at Carleton University. She has published numerous articles in journals and edited collections on such issues as the role of non-governmental organizations in development, global civil society, citizenship struggles in Latin America, Canadian development assistance and the political impact of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). She has edited four books: The Politics of Violence in Latin America and the Caribbean, Cambridge University Press, 2017 (with Tina Hilgers); North American in Question: Regional Integration in an Era of Economic Turbulence, University of Toronto Press, 2012 (with Jeffrey Ayres); Contentious Politics in North America, Palgrave Macmillan, 2009 (with Jeffrey Ayres); and Post-Neoliberalism in the Americas: Beyond the Washington Consensus?, Palgrave Macmillan, 2009 (with Arne Ruckert). She is co-author of Women, Democracy, and Globalization in North America: A Comparative Study.  Palgrave Macmillan, 2006 (with Jane Bayes, Patricia Begne, Laura Gonzalez, Lois Harder, and Mary Hawkesworth), and author of Supporting Civil Society: The Political Impact of NGO Assistance to Central America, Basingstoke, UK and New York City: Macmillan Press and St. Martin’s Press, 1997. Her recent work looks at Canada’s role in Latin America, policies to reduce crime and violence in Mexico City, and transnational activism around human rights in North America.

Professor Macdonald is also a regular media commentator on issues related to Latin American and North American political economy, and is a member of the McLeod Group (, a group of academics and development professionals working to advance Canadian policy and action in international cooperation and foreign affairs.

Current Research

Laura Macdonald has several on-going research projects funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC). Her major research project is titled “From minor player to major actor: The role of Canada in Latin America” (see This project involves analysis of Canada’s role in Latin America under the Harper government focusing on three themes:  mining, migration and foreign policy, and four countries (Mexico, Guatemala, Peru and Argentina). Her work within this project has focused on such topics as research and analysis of the Harper government’s Americas Strategy, Canadian trade and development assistance policies, relations with Mexico, and Canada’s economic relations with emerging markets. She has also written with Christina Gabriel on programs that bring temporary foreign agricultural worker to Canada from both Mexico and Guatemala.

Macdonald is a co-investigator on a research program titled “Austerity and its Alternatives”, headed by Stephen McBride of McMaster University. This program brings together researchers from both universities and private research centres from Canada, the United Kingdom, Ireland and Germany. Our goal is to probe simultaneously understandings of austerity in the Canadian context and to engage with and explore international understandings in order to stimulate greater reciprocal debate that can contribute to evidence-based policy-making.

She is also a co-investigator on a SSHRC-funded Insight Development grant headed by Lucy Luccisano and Paula Maurutto titled Safe Cities, Urban Politics and Social Policy in North America. This project studies community service hubs across three North American urban settings: Mexico City, New York City (NYC) and Toronto. In the last decade, municipal governments in these cities have invested heavily in the development of community service hubs to bring together policies around social provision with strategies for violence prevention. Our research examines key factors involved in the transmission of the community service hub model across North America and how this model has been implemented in different ways in each of the three sites.

Recent Publications


Jeffrey Ayres and Laura Macdonald, eds. North American in Question: Regional Integration in an Era of Economic Turbulence, University of Toronto Press, 2012.

North American in Question: Regional Integration in an Era of Economic Turbulence

North American in Question: Regional Integration in an Era of Economic Turbulence

Jeffrey Ayres and Laura Macdonald, eds.  Contentious Politics in North America, Palgrave Macmillan, 2009.

Contentious Politics in North America

Laura Macdonald and Arne Ruckert, eds., Post-Neoliberalism in the Americas: Beyond the Washington Consensus?, Palgrave Macmillan, 2009.

 Post-Neoliberalism in the Americas

Special Issues of Refereed Journals

Laura Macdonald and Jeremy Paltiel, Guest Editors, special issue of Canadian Foreign Policy Journal, “Canada and the Emerging Markets”, 22 (1) 2016.

Pablo Heidrich and Laura Macdonald,” Special Issue of Latin American Policy, “Canadian Mining Investments and Latin American Development,” Published online November 29, DOI: 10.1111/lamp.12110, pp. 191-194.


Articles in Refereed Journals

Pablo Heidrich and Laura Macdonald, “Introduction: Special Issue on Canadian Mining Investments and Latin American Development” Published online November 29, 2016DOI: 10.1111/lamp.12110, pp. 191-194.

Arne Ruckert, Laura Macdonald and Kristina Proulx, “Post-Neoliberalism in Crisis? A Conceptual Review, Third World Quarterly.Published online December 202016.

Laura Macdonald, “Canada in the Post-Hegemonic Hemisphere: Evaluating the Harper Government’s Americas Strategy,” Studies in Political Economy, 97: 1, 2016, 1-17.   Full text online

Laura Macdonald and Jeremy Paltiel, “Middle power or muddling power? Canadian Foreign Policy Journal, 22 (1) 2016, 1-11. Full text online

Laura Macdonald, “Evaluating Canadian economic diplomacy: Canada’s relations with emerging markets in the Americas,” Canadian Foreign Policy Journal, 22 (1) 2016, 12-25.

Lucy Luccisano and Laura Macdonald, “Mexico and Social Provision by the Federal Government and the Federal District: Obstacles and Openings to a Global Social Protection Floor, Global Social Policy, Vol. 14, no. 3, 2014: 333-351 DOI: 10.1177/1468018114539692 Full text online

Christina Gabriel and Laura Macdonald, “Domestic Transnationalism: Legal Advocacy for Mexican Migrant Workers’ Rights in Canada”, Citizenship Studies, Vol. 18, Issue 3-4, 2014, pp. 243-258.

Débora Lopreite and Laura Macdonald, “Gender and Latin American Welfare Regimes: Early Childhood Education and Care Policies in Argentina and Mexico,” Social Politics, Vol. 21, no. 1, 2014, pp. 80-102.

Lucy Luccisano and Laura Macdonald, “Neo-liberalism, Semi-clientelism and the Politics of Scale in Mexican Anti-Poverty Policies,” World Political Science Review, Vol. 8, no. 1, 2012 (English translation of 2011 Politique et Sociétés article).

Jeffrey Ayres and Laura Macdonald, “A Community of Fate? Nonpolarity and North American Security Interdependence,” Canadian Foreign Policy, Vol. 18, no. 1, 2012), pp.  92-105.

Lucy Luccisano and Laura Macdonald, “Le néolibéralisme, le semi-clientélisme et la théorie politique de liéchelle dans les mesures anti-pauvretéamexicaines ” Politique et Sociétés. Vol.30 , No.2, 2011, pp. 173-201. Full text online.

Christina Gabriel and Laura Macdonald, 2011, “Citizenship at the Margins:  The Canadian Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program and Civil Society Advocacy,” Politics and Policy, Vol. 39, issue 1, pp. 45-67.

Laura Macdonald, “A Fine Balance:  Multilateralism and Bilateralism in Canadian Policy in the North American Region,” Canadian Foreign Policy, Vol. 16, no. 2, 2011, 111-124.

Melissa Haussman and Laura Macdonald, “Introduction:  Canada-US Relations under Obama: Continuity or Change,” introduction to special issue edited by Haussman and Macdonald, American Review of Canadian Studies, vol. 39, no. 4, December 2009, pp. 323-335.

Rianne Mahon and Laura Macdonald, “Anti-poverty politics in Toronto and Mexico City,” Geoforum, vol. 41, issue 2, 2010, pp. 209-217.

Book Chapters

Laura Macdonald, “Upsetting the Apple Cart? Implications of the NAFTA Re-Negotiations for Canada–US Relations,” in David Carment and Chris Sands, eds., Canada-US Relations: Sovereignty or Shared Institutions?, Cham, Switzerland: Palgrave Macmillan, 2018, 193-213

Tina Hilgers and Laura Macdonald, eds., Violence in Latin America and the Caribbean: Subnational Structures, Institutions, and Clientelistic Networks, New York: Cambridge University Press, 2017.

Laura Macdonald and Jeffrey Ayres, “Civil Society and International Political Economy,” in Greg Anderson and Chris Kukucha, eds., International Political Economy, Toronto: Oxford University Press, 2016, pp. 329-342.

Laura Macdonald and Angella MacEwen. “Does the TPP Work for Workers? Analyzing the Labour Chapter of the TPP”. In Scott Sinclair and Stuart Trew, eds., The Trans-Pacific Partnership and Canada: A Citizen’s Guide, Toronto: Lorimer, 2016, pp. 95-106. First published online by CCPA @

J.Z. Garrod and Laura Macdonald. “Imperialism or Something Else? Rethinking ‘Canadian Mining Imperialism’ in Latin America,” in Kalowatie Deonandan and Michael Dougherty, Mining in Latin America: Critical Approaches to the “New Extraction,” Routledge, 2016. 100-115.

Laura Macdonald and Arne Rückert.“Continental Shift?  Rethinking Canadian Aid to the Americas,” in Stephen Brown, Molly den Heyer and David Black, eds., Rethinking Canadian Aid, 2nd edition, Ottawa: University of Ottawa Press, 2016, pp. 133-150 (revised version of 2014 article).  Full text online.

Lucy Luccisano and Laura Macdonald. “The Impact of the Global Financial Crisis on Mexican Social Policy,” in Gerry Boychuk, Rianne Mahon and Stephen McBride, eds., After ’08: Social Policy and the Global Crisis, Vancouver: UBC Press, 2015, pp. 181-196.

Jeffrey Ayres and Laura Macdonald. “Is North America Unravelling? Transformations of Regionalism in North America,” in Sören Dosenrode, ed., Limits to Regional Integration, Ashgate Publishing Company, Farnham Surrey England, 2015, pp. 179-198.

Laura Macdonald and Arne Rückert, “Continental Shift?  Rethinking Canadian Aid to the Americas,” in Stephen Brown, Molly den Heyer and David Black, eds., Rethinking Canadian Aid, University of Ottawa Press, 2014, pp. 125-142.,%20den%20Heyer%20and%20Black%20-%20Rethinking%20Canadian%20Aid%20(2014).pdf Full text online.

Laura Macdonald, “Regionalism in Flux:  Politics, Economics and Security in the North American Region,” for Scarlett Cornelissen, J. Andrew Grant and Timothy Shaw, eds., The Ashgate Research Companion to Regionalisms, Farnham, Surrey: Ashgate, 2012, 113-128.

Lucy Luccisano and Laura Macdonald, “The Limits of Anti-Poverty Policy:  Citizenship, Accountability and Neo-Clientelism in Mexico’s Oportunidades Program,” in Jordi Diez and Susan Franceschet, Comparative Public Policy in Latin America, University of Toronto Press, 2012, pp. 205-227.

Christina Gabriel and Laura Macdonald, “Debates on Temporary Agricultural Worker Migration in the North American Context,” in Patti Tamara Lenard and Christine Straehleeds., Legislated Inequality: Temporary Labour Migration in Canada, Kingston/Montreal: McGill-Queen’s, 2012, pp. 95-116.

Jeffrey Ayres and Laura Macdonald, “Introduction,” in Jeffrey Ayres and Laura Macdonald, eds., North American in QuestionRegional Integration in an Era of Economic Turbulence, University of Toronto Press, 2012.

Jeffrey Ayres and Laura Macdonald, “Democratic Deficits:  the Role of Civil Society” in Jeffrey Ayres and Laura Macdonald, eds., North American in Question: Regional Integration in an Era of Economic Turbulence, University of Toronto Press, 2012.

Laura Macdonald, “Canada and North American Integration – Bringing in Civil Society? In Julián Castro-Rea, ed., Our North America: Social and Political Issues beyond NAFTA. Farnham, Surrey, UK: Ashgate, 2012, 139-50.

Laura Macdonald, “Labour on the Side:  Shallow North American Governance and the Fate of Canadian and U.S. Workers,”in Monica Gattinger and Geoffrey Hale, eds., Borders and Bridges:  Canada’s Policy Relations in North America, Don Mills, Oxford University Press, 2010, pp. 231-247.

Laura Macdonald and Lisa Mills, “Gender, Democracy and Federalism in Mexico:  Implications for Reproductive Rights and Social Policy,” in Melissa Haussman, Jill Vickers and Marian Sawer, eds., Federalism, Feminism and Multilevel Governance, Farnham, Surrey, UK: Ashgate, 2010, pp. 187-198.

Jeffrey Ayres and Laura Macdonald, “Introduction, Conceptualizing North American Contentious Action,” in Jeffrey Ayres and Laura Macdonald, eds.  Contentious Politics in North America, Palgrave Macmillan, 2009, pp. 3-15.

Laura Macdonald and Arne Ruckert, “Post-Neoliberalism in the Americas:  An Introduction, in Laura Macdonald and Arne Ruckert, eds., Post-Neoliberalism in the Americas: Beyond the Washington Consensus?, Basingstoke UK:  Palgrave Macmillan, 2009, pp. 1-18.

Rianne Mahon and Laura Macdonald, “Poverty Policy and Politics in Canada and Mexico: `Inclusive’ Liberalism? In Laura Macdonald and Arne Ruckert, eds., Post-Neoliberalism in the Americas: Beyond the Washington Consensus?, Basingstoke UK:  Palgrave Macmillan, 2009, 184-198.

Recent Media Coverage

“Canada sees an opportunity to boost its trade ties with Latin America,” Interview with Laura MacdonaldWorld Politics Review, July 22, 2016

Koleva, Katarina. “On Canada’s Trade with the Emerging Markets, Brexit and More: An Interview with Prof. Laura Macdonald,” iAffairs, June 29, 2016.

Pablo Heidrich, Laura Macdonald and Catalina Prada, “Canada and the Pacific Alliance,” Policy Brief, North-South Institute, Spring 2013. Full text online

“Macdonald: What’s next for Canada and Mexico’s Relationship?” Ottawa Citizen, July 4, 2016.

“Is Canada Pan-American Dreaming?”, July 21, 2015, available at:

“After the Summit of the Americas:  What next for Canada in the Hemisphere?”  With Stephen Baranyi., April 17, 2015, available at:

Interview, CTV News online, Laura Payton, “Trudeau, Peña Nieto comparisons only skin-deep,” June 27, 2016

Interview, Josh Wingrove and Mike Dorning, “North American Leaders meet, with Brexit and Trump Clouding Ties,” Bloomberg Politics, June 28, 2016.

In-studio commentator for CTV National News network on 3 Amigos summit, June 29, 2016.

Interview, Paul Christopher Webster, “Next Exit Monterrey,” Report on Business Magazine,”, May 1, 2015.

Interview, “Fin de la pornografía de pobreza?” Radio Canada International, March 18, 2015,

“The North American Relationship is Stale,” Ottawa Citizen, February 19, 2014.

Scholarly Work in Progress

Tina Hilgers and Laura Macdonald, eds., The Politics of Violence in Latin America and the Caribbean, Cambridge University Press, In Press.