Undermining the Democratic Process: The Canadian Government Suppression of Palestinian Development Aid Projects

Jeremy Wildeman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Countless Canadians have for decades been trying to provide support to Palestinians living under military occupation in the occupied Palestinian territories. However, they have often faced strong resistance from pro-Israel advocates and elites in Canada, including their own government. This paper looks at the government suppression of Canadian development sector organisations running Palestinian aid projects 2001 to 2012, including from the perspective of the people running them. Based on document analysis, policy analysis andoriginal semi-structured interviews with coordinators running aid projects, it describes how their work was almost universally undermined by the Canadian government. Tactics uncovered include appointing ardent pro-Israel advocates to an organisation’s management, defunding specific projects, defunding entire organisations, launching questionable audits, spurious allegations of terrorism and the forced closure of organisations. This oppression was particularly overt under the Harper Conservative government,but had a basis in earlier Liberal governments. This interference provides an understanding for the fear that exists surrounding Palestinian aid work in Canada and the process by which Canadian aid to Palestinians is rendered ineffective. The paper further argues that while these tactics were likely first honed against Palestinian solidarity work, they were then used against other progressive groups, undermining Canadian civil society and democracy.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberCJMES 2
Pages (from-to)1-30
Number of pages30
JournalCanadian Journal for Middle East Studies
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 24 Aug 2017


  • government oppression
  • NGOs
  • Canadian democracy
  • Canada
  • occupied Palestinian territories
  • Israel lobby
  • foreign aid


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