Martin Horak

Associate Professor
Associate Director, Centre for Urban Policy and Local Governance


Ph.D., University of Toronto
Telephone: 519.661.2111 ext. 85002
Office: Social Science Centre 7237

Research Interests

Professor Horak specializes in Canadian and comparative urban politics, with an emphasis on the dynamics of urban policy-making and multilevel governance.  He is also interested in how the spaces of urban life and everyday relations within them shape our attitudes towards those who are socially different from us, and in the possibility and practice of self-governing cooperation in cities.

Current Research Projects

1. The Political Economy of Federal Infrastructure Programs in Canada

This project (with Jesse Helmer) examines political influences on the allocation of federal infrastructure funding transfers.

2. Social Cooperation and Urban Self-Government

Social cooperation and urban self-government. This ongoing interdisciplinary research project brings together normative theory, social theory and empirical analysis to understand the foundations and potential of self-governed social cooperation in cities. The normative-theoretical element of the project has resulted in a paper (with Caleb Althorpe) Urban Affairs Review. The quantitative-empirical element of the project includes an investigation of social network ties and practical helping behaviours among community members during the COVID-19 pandemic (with Shanaya Vanhooren).

3. Multi-Level urban governance in Canada

This collaborative project, with Zack Taylor, Neil Bradford (Huron), and Alison Smith (U of T), aims to understand changes in multilevel urban governance in Canada in recent years by comparing patterns of policy evolution in the fields of transportation, homelessness, and economic development. It is funded by a SSHRC Insight Development Grant.

4. Canadian Municipal Attributes Portal (C-MAP)

This project has developed a database of 50 institutional characteristics for more than 60 Canadian local governments. Presentation of the database on an interactive web portal is supported by a Western KMI grant.

5. City Politics in Canada (2nd edition)

A second (and completely new) edition of this classic edited volume from 1983. Jack Lucas, Zack Taylor and I are coordinating the production of this volume.

6. COVID-19 and Urban-Rural Migration

This comparative research (conducted together with researchers from several countries) aims to document the causes and governance implications of the migration of urban professionals from large cities during COVID-19 pandemic. The research is conducted under the aegis of the LoGov research programme (, supported by a European Union grant.

Selected Publications


  • 2015. With Clarence Stone et al.  Urban Neighborhoods in a New Era: Revitalization Politics in the Postindustrial City.  Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  • 2014. Úspěch i Zklamání: Demokracie a Veřejná Politika v Praze, 1990-2000.  Prague: Karolinum Press.
  • 2012. Edited with Robert Young.  Sites of Governance: Multilevel Governance and Policy Making in Canada’s Big Cities, McGill-Queens University Press.
  • 2007. Governing the Post-Communist City:  Institutions and Democratic Development in Prague. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.

Refereed Journal Articles

  • 2023. With Shanaya Vanhooren. "Somebody to Lean On: Community Ties, Social Exchange, and Practical Help during the COVID-19 Pandemic." City & Community.
  • 2023. With Caleb Althorpe. "The end of the right to the city: A radical-cooperative view." Urban Affairs Review.
  • 2014. With Marilyn Dantico.  “The Limits of Local Redistribution: Neighbourhood Regeneration Initiatives in Toronto and Phoenix”.  International Journal of Canadian Studies 49, 135-158. 10.3138/ijcs.49.135.
  • 2013. "State Rescaling in Practice: Urban Governance Reform in Toronto".  Urban Research & Practice 6:3, 311-328. 10.1080/17535069.2013.846005.
  • 2001. “Environmental Policy Reform in the Post-communist Czech Republic: the Case of Air Pollution”.  Europe-Asia Studies 53:2 (March), 313-327. 10.1080/09668130020032316.

Book Chapters/ Refereed Papers

  • 2021. “Building rapid transit in Canada: the problem of governance”. In Francisco Velasco Caballero, ed., Anuario de Derecho Municipal 2020. Madrid: Universidad Autonoma de Madrid, 243-258.
  • 2021. With Andrew Sancton and Allison Bramwell. “Bob Young, Big Projects, and the Study of Local and Urban Politics in Canada”. In André Blais, Cristine de Clercy, Anna Esselment and Ronald Wintrobe (eds), Across Boundaries: Essays in Honour of Robert A. Young, Kingston and Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 15-32.
  • 2018. With Andreanne Doyon. “Metropolitan governance in Canada: Lessons from Toronto and Vancouver”. In Richard Tomlinson and Marcs Spiller, eds. Australia’s Metropolitan Imperative: An Agenda for Governance Reform. Clayton: CSIRO Publishing, 109-122.
  • 2018. With Gabriel Eidelman. “Federalism and Transportation Infrastructure: The U.S. Experience”.  In John R. Allan and Robert Young, eds. Canadian Federalism and Infrastructure. Montreal & Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 247-262.
  • 2017. With Richard E. Stren and Gabriel Eidelman. “Toronto: Metropolitan Transformation and the Governance of Sustainability”. In David Gómez-Álvarez, Eduardo López-Moreno, Robin Rajack, and Gabriel Lanfranchi, eds. Steering the Metropolis: Metropolitan Governance for Sustainable Urban Development. Washington, DC: IDB, 332-340.
  • 2016. “Toronto and the GTA: Changing Contours of Governance in Ontario’s Global City”. In Cheryl Collier and Jonathan Malloy, eds. The Government and Politics of Ontario. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 312-328.
  • 2012. With Talja Blokland. “Neighborhoods and Civic Practice". In Susan Clarke, Peter John and Karen Mossberger, eds., Oxford Handbook of Urban Politics, Oxford University Press.
  • 2012. “Multilevel Governance in Toronto: Overcoming Coordination Challenges in the ‘Megacity’”. In Robert Young and Martin Horak, eds., Sites of Governance: Multilevel Governance and Policy Making in Canada’s Big Cities, McGill-Queens University Press.
  • 2012. “Conclusion”. In Robert Young and Martin Horak, eds., Sites of Governance: Multilevel Governance and Policy Making in Canada’s Big Cities, McGill-Queens University Press.
  • 2008. Governance Reform From Below: Multilevel Politics and Toronto’s ‘New Deal’ Campaign. Global Dialogue Series, No. 4. Nairobi: UN-Habitat.
  • 1998. “The Power of Local Identity: C4LD and the anti-amalgamation mobilization in Toronto.” Research Paper 195. Toronto: Centre for Urban and Community Studies.

Recent Conference Presentations

  • 2017. “Re-stating the City: Multi-Scalar Historical Analysis of Urban Authority Systems.”  Canadian Political Science Association Annual Meeting, Toronto, June.
  • 2015. With Gabriel Eidelman.  “Transportation Infrastructure:  The U.S. Experience”.  State of the Federation Conference, Queen’s University, Kingston, June.

Awards and Distinctions

  • 2013-2016. University Student Council Teaching Honour Roll, University of Western Ontario.
  • 2010. Nominated for SSHRC Aurora Prize, an interdisciplinary Canada-wide prize ($25,000 award) for an outstanding new researcher in the social sciences or humanities.  Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.   
  • 2008. American Political Science Association Prize for Best Urban Politics Book published in 2007.  Awarded for Governing the Post-Communist City: Institutions and Democratic Development in Prague.