This project will produce the first systematic examination of the breadth of state funding for social movements in Canada and, in this way, offer the most comprehensive survey of how this country’s social movement sector has evolved over time. It is divided into two parts: (a) an examination of the history of state funding for social movements, including a comparison of government funding models; (b) an examination of how the relationship between state funding and social movements varies across movements, regions, and time periods.
Canadians have witnessed a remarkable surge in social protest, including Idle No More, Toronto’s G20 protests and the Quebec student demonstrations. These have occurred alongside similar developments around the world, most notably Occupy Wall Street, the Arab Spring and protests in Egypt, Turkey and Brazil. Meanwhile, the relationship between the governments and social movement organizations (SMOs) in Canada has been rapidly changing. Funding for social movements is being substantially reduced and the new revised charitable status regulations discourage SMOs from engaging in advocacy. Yet governments in Canada continue to depend heavily on SMOs to deliver services such as crisis response, education or health programs. Many SMOs are responding to the cuts with innovations in organizing, advocacy, and community fundraising while others are diminishing in size or disappearing under these new conditions. These developments make this an ideal moment to study social movements and their relationship with the state. If social movements are essential to democracy and facilitating citizen engagement, then changes in state funding raises profound questions about how movements advocate for the interests of their constituents.