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Thomlinson, Neil

Thomlinson, Neil


Coordinator: Continuing Education



PhD (Political Science): Toronto




(416) 979-5000 x 6188


Dr. Neil Thomlinson is Associate Professor in the Department of Politics and Public Administration at Ryerson University, which he joined in 1995 as a sessional instructor.  He was appointed an Assistant Professor in 2000, was transferred to tenure and promoted to Associate Professor in 2005.  He served as Undergraduate Program Director (UPD) for both undergraduate programs from 2002 to 2006, as Department Chair from 01 July 2006 to 30 June 2011, as interim UPD for the Politics and Governance BA program from August 2016 thru December 2017, and as interim UPD for the Public Administration and Governance BA program from January 2018 thru June 2019. He serves as CE Coordinator for the Public Administration and Governance Certificates, as well as for CPOG and CPOL courses offered through the Chang School. 

In addition to a PhD in Political Science from the University of Toronto, Neil holds a Master of Arts (MA) in Political Studies from the University of Saskatchewan, and a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Political Science from the University of Calgary.  A member of the Yeates School of Graduate Studies, Neil is affiliated with the MA program in Public Policy and Administration, and the interdisciplinary PhD program in Policy Studies.

He is a frequent media commentator on urban, Canadian, and sexual politics and public policy.

In 2011-12, 2014-15, and 2019-20, he was affiliated with the UFRJ - Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro (Federal University of Rio de Janeiro) through its Institute of Urban and Regional Planning and Research (IPPUR - Instituto de Pesquisa e Planejamento Urbano e Regional), which includes the Observatório das Metrópoles.  He also worked with the leadership of the GPDES - Gestão Pública para o Desenvolvimento Econômico e Social (Public Management for Social and Economic Development) program to establish exchange agreements that would facilitate student and faculty exchanges and collaborative research. A Memorandum of Understanding between the two institutions was signed in Toronto on 27 June 2012. 

Research Interests:

In general, research interests are in the area of public policy, local government and politics, Canadian government and politics, and, increasingly, Brazilian government and politics.

Current Courses:

Dr. Thomlinson typically teaches in both of the undergraduate programs offered by the Department (Politics and Governance and Public Administration and Governance), as well as a Liberal Studies elective available to students of all Ryerson programs.  Courses typically include some combination of local and urban governance, Canadian government and politics, public policy, and the politics of sexual diversity and identity.

  • POG210: Power and Authority in Canada
  • POG410: Canadian Urban Politics
  • POL510:  The Politics of Sexual Diversity
  • (C)PPA211: Public Policy
  • (C)PPA411: Advanced Public Policy

At the graduate level, Neil teaches in the MA program in Public Policy and Administration.

  • PA8101:  Policy Analysis and Challenges

He was named a “popular prof” in Maclean’s Guide to Canadian Universities from 2003 until Ryerson withdrew from participation in the Guide

Selected Publications:

  • Privatization won’t save Canada Post.” Toronto Star, 09 January 2016, IN7.  Response to R. Michael Warren, “Time to stop Canada Post’s slow-motion death march,” Toronto Star 23 December 2015.
  • Review of The Merger Delusion: How Swallowing Its Suburbs Made and Even Bigger Mess of Montréal by Peter F. Trent (Montréal and Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2012): 672pp. Canadian Journal of Political Science 48:4 (December 2015): 980-982.
  • Response to Jørgen Bøytler, 2014 Walter Vivian Moses Lecture: “Unity in Diversity: Challenges to the Worldwide Moravian Unity.”  The Hinge: International Theological Dialog for the Moravian Church 21:1 (Fall 2015):  33-34 (lecture at pp. 3-24).
  • Review of Democracy and the Culture of Skepticism: Political Trust in Argentina and Mexico by Matthew R. Cleary and Susan C. Stokes (New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 2006): 264pp. Canadian Journal of Political Science 41:2 (June 2008): 512-14.
  • "Church Governance: On Bringing 'Politics' (back) In." The Hinge: A Journal of Christian Thought for the Moravian Church 13:2 (Spring 2006): 2-18; and "The Author's Final Word," pp. 28-31.
  • “Two-tier Health Care, Education and Policing: a Comparative Analysis of the Discourses of Privatization” (with Wendy Cukier). Canadian Journal of Criminology and Criminal Justice 47:1 (January 2005): 87-126.
  • “Race and Faith in the Moravian Church.” The Hinge: A Journal of Christian Thought for the Moravian Church 10:2 (Summer 2003): 21-26.
  • Review of Laboring for Rights: Unions and Sexual Diversity Across Nations, ed. Gerald L. Hunt (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1999): 302pp. Labour/Le Travail 48 (Fall 2001): 322-324.
  • “When Right is Wrong: Municipal Governance and Downloading in Toronto.” In Restructuring and Resistance: Canadian Public Policy in an Age of Global Capitalism, ed. Mike Burke, Colin Mooers & John Shields, 226-260. Halifax: Fernwood Publishing, 2000.
  • Review of The Pink and the Black: Homosexuals in France since 1968 by Frédéric Martel, translated by Jane Marie Todd (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1999): 442pp. Canadian Journal of Sociology Online September - October, 2000.
  • “Gay Concerns and Local Governments.” In The Politics of the City: A Canadian Perspective, ed. Timothy Thomas, 115-136. Scarborough: I.T.P. Nelson, 1997.

Professional Affiliations:

Before entering the world of academe, Neil was the Parts Manager of a successful Ford dealership, while also serving as a municipal councillor, Mayor, and Chair of a Regional Planning Commission in Northern Alberta. He continued to work as a partsman while completing his BA and MA, and also continued to serve his community as a board member, Treasurer, and President of AIDS Calgary. In recognition of that volunteer service, he was awarded the Canada Volunteer Award by Health and Welfare Canada in 1991.

Neil's volunteer commitment continues in the profession, within Ryerson, and in the broader community.


He has served on the Editorial Board of The Hinge since 2007, and was an elected member of the Board of Directors of the Canadian Political Science Association (2013-15). He was Section Head for the Local and Urban section of the Canadian Political Science Association (CPSA) for the annual conferences of 2011 and 2015 (the latter jointly with Duncan MacLellan).  He served as CPSA Local Arrangements Coordinator for the 2017 Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences, held at Ryerson University in 2017.


  • Provost's Academic Advisory Group drafting the Academic Plan (2019-20)
  • Curriculum Implementation Committee of Senate (2016-2018)
  • elected (at large) member of Senate (2013-14; 2017-2019)
  • Provost's "kitchen cabinet" drafting the Academic Plan, Our Time to Lead (2013-14)                
  • Senate Task Force on Interdisciplinary Programs (2013)
  • Senate Priorities Committee (2009-11; 2017-2019)
  • Senate Review (2007-8) and Restructuring (2008-9) Committees
  • representative of Chairs in the Faculty of Arts on Senate (2008-2011)
  • Chairs/Directors’ Council of the Ryerson Faculty Association (2007-11)
  • chaired the Provost’s Committee on Timetabling (2006-11)
  • Executive of the Ryerson Faculty Association (2004-6)
  • Faculty of Arts Teaching Standards Committee (2009-2011) and its predecessor Faculty Local Norms Committee (2005-2009).   

He has also served on a variety of other standing and ad hoc committees within the University, Faculty, and Department.

His service to the University was recognised with a 2015 Deans' Service Award.  The honour was announced on Ryerson Today in January 2015.


He sits on the Policy and Accreditation Committee of the Ontario Municipal Management Institute (OMMI).

Spoken Languages: