An emerging pattern of governance in contemporary liberal democratic welfare states is a move away from interest group representation and a public sphere organised around demands for extensions of rights to something much more constrained. This paper is concerned with the impacts of this shift in governance on the role and place of community based organisations as a critical vehicle for the acquisition and expression of citizenship. It asks how such a profound shift in representation has occurred through governance spaces that are co-constructed by community organisations with roots in interest group representation in changes that have deeply compromised their rights to participate and their missions. It examines the case of Canadian immigrant settlement where beliefs about citizen representation, the role of the state and the nature of the public sphere have undergone profound change, leaving immigrant organisations as either marginal players or fully incorporated in state sanctioned immigrant service provision. Drawing on documentary evidence and interviews with immigrant organisations and public officials in Ottawa, it shows how immigrant organizations have actively interpreted their interests in the light of this changing web of beliefs to co-construct a new policy regime that favours organisational interests over citizen participation.