In 2005, after many years of inaction, the Canadian government seemed poised to make real changes to national childcare policy—a marker of social movement success for the grassroots Child Care Advocacy Association of Canada (CCAAC). In this paper, we analyse childcare policy developments in Canada between 2003 and 2005, drawing on qualitative interviews conducted with CCAAC staff and members, allies from other national childcare organizations, and former elected government officials and policy makers. Given its role as a grassroots social movement organization and not a professional association (which can be more closely aligned with governments), we hypothesized that the CCAAC would take a conflictual approach to the federal government’s policy initiative. Our close analysis of interviews with CCAAC staff, their allies and elected government officials and civil servants instead reveals conflictual and cooperative relations (Giugni and Passy, In: From contention to democracy. Lanham, MD, Rowman & Littlefield. ) during this important period. Our discussion explores some possible conditions in the sociopolitical environment and the internal structure of CCAAC that account for this conflictual-cooperation SMO–government relationship from 2003 to 2005.